After a late night pasting up Helen Johnson’s inspired Brutalist Regeneration mural on Horsham’s most loathed building, the Post Office, we wake to a glorious Wimmera morning – blue skies, golden sunshine and jack frost! Bbbrrrr!!
Energised on a delish Cafe Jas’ breakfast we head to the site of this brutalist-style building to welcome Saturday morning shoppers to the mural and reveal its links to the emblems, icons and symbols that appear around town. Agatha Gothe-Snape and her entourage of candy coloured balloons infiltrates the crowd. The artist invites people to choose their balloon based on the colour they are feeling that day and before too long the streets are dotted with the young and elderly trailing her truism-marked balloons along Horsham’s main drag. People love balloons!
Roll out the barrel
Mid morning we move a few blocks down the main street to watch Nathan Gray perform with the Natimuk Brass Band. Regal in their uniform of royal blue blazers and yellow ties, the band is seated in a horse-shoe configuration playing a range of songs from their repertoire. Nathan stands sunglassed and headphoned at his purpose-made sound system. Positioned opposite bandmaster Jill, he slowly works his magic, capturing the bands brass tones and processing them into an electronic accompaniment that stops traffic as it grows in volume and audacity. Culminating in the performance of the theme song to A Beautiful Mind, the result of this musical collaboration is euphoric and successful.
When in Horsham…do as the locals do…go to the footy
After a quick lunch we head to the local footy game, Horsham United v the Warracknabeal Eagles, and take up prime position by the clubrooms. Again Nathan and the Brass Band perform their Rural Infrasonics series to much applaud and honking from the crowd. Once the game commences we withdraw to the second floor of the clubrooms for primo views of the game and artist talk. An interested crowd joins us for sandwiches and champagne while the artists discuss their projects indepth and answer questions from the floor.
It’s another day…
Sunday morning we rise to another brilliant sky. Fortified by an evening of nourishing soup and sandwiches at the Horsham Regional Art Gallery Director’s home we are ready for another exciting art-fill day.
We load ourselves into the car and head 15 minutes down the road to Natimuk, a town of 500 that is based at the foot of the Arapiles and boasts the best rock climbing in the southern hemisphere. We arrive in time to view the final performance of Rural Infrasonics at the Natimuk Farmers Market. Less grunty than the performance at the footy, this final itineration of A Beautiful Mind is both Pink Floyd and Moon Dog. A proud Nathan and members of the Nati Brass Band stand together to have a band portrait taken. A happy moment that will be framed and posted to the band after the weekend.
The Farmers Market also proves to be a balloon frenzy with Agatha Gothe-Snape’s coloured balloons dotting the landscape of this quaint country town. After an indulged feast of duck sausages and local apples we take Agatha on a trip to the Arapiles, stopping at Bard Rock for her to release a bunch of her (bio-degradable) balloons into the sky. Fighting a fierce wind, Agatha was guided by locals to a safe and picturesque place to release the balloon and their truisms. After several years of working with these texts she is pleased to relenquish herself of them in such an iconic landscape.
We quickly rush back to Natimuk in time to experience Laresa Kosloff & Andy Thomson’s work, The Green Text. A sporting commentary, written by the artists and pre-recorded with the voices of comedians Santo Cilauro and Julia Zemiro, The Green Text is a sound piece intended to be listened to via headphones while watching a game of lawn bowls. On this Sunday afternoon the Bowling Club have hosted an out-of-season tournament and we wait our turn to watch a game of bowls while listening to the work. This experience, humorous yet surprisingly isolating, is complimented by a magnificent afternoon tea put on by the ladies of the Natimuk Bowling Club. Passionfruit sponge, jelly slice, quiche and sausages rolls are heartily enjoyed by all as the wind picks up on the Wimmera plains.
A good time was had by all!
ART#2 wraps up that evening with a series of screenings at the handsome Natimuk Soldiers Memorial Hall. Packed to the rafters with locals and out of town visitors, the audience is served wine and food before viewing a film of The Green Text, which artfully combines footage of the Natimuk Bowling Club playing on the green with the scripted sporting commentary. The work captures the grace of the sport, celebrating its particular pace and choreography and offering viewers a good chance to critique their form!
This is followed by a screening of a film made by Nathan Gray that documents a Monday night rehearsal session with the Natimuk Brass Band in their band hall. Gray captures the heritage and history of the band in this warm-hearted documentary that received many a wolf whistle.
The evening concluded with a screening of two works made by Garbielle de Vietri while on residency in the region during the month of March. Drawing on workshops held by the artist with local kids, both works explore life in the country and invite the wisdom of the elderly. De Vietri’s spoken word performance over the last film was a huge success, bringing together all she had learnt in Horsham – both observations of the artist, advice of the elderly and from-the-mouth-of-babes insights from the local kids.
After voicing our sincere thank you’s to the crowd we dashed off into the dark night with fond memories of Horsham and the rich connections we made there. A week later rain has begun to peel Helen’s lush pastiche of symbols from the Post Office wall; the Natimuk Brass Band returns to their rehearsals without the presence of Nathan and his sculpture; the balloons have popped or floated away to carry their messages off high above the prehistoric Arapiles; and the Natimuk Bowls Club closes its doors during the months where the climate is unkind to outdoor sports…