A lot of self-inflicted/self-funded exploratory arts and governance learning, has allowed the F.INC team to now support the pursuit of the holy-regional-arts-grail – the Small Town Transformations program, in the shape of FLOAT at Lake Tyers Beach.
Small Town Transformations was an amazing opportunity for towns of less than 2,000 people to apply for a flat $350,000 of arts funding - each. Offered by the Victorian Government, and managed by Regional Arts Victoria. Out of 70+ applicants, six small towns across the state were funded to deliver their two-year transformational project.
As Lake Tyers Beach residents, a small group of artists conceived a notion to build a financially viable and environmentally sustainable FLOATing arts and research vessel. A permanent, globally-enticing residency space for artists & environmentalists.
This active studio and its ongoing residency & workshop program will provide the creative focus — and momentum — to galvanise the East Gippsland community around its love of the Lake Tyers environment. To care for it, to know it, to observe and document it and to celebrate the wisdom of those who have lived here forever.
Ultimately we will demonstrate the power of creativity to build a thriving local economy – underpinned by
cross-cultural environmental stewardship (you know, small-scale creative, eco and culturally sensitive tourism that makes us all feel like travelling and caring).
The FLOAT vessel is an artwork in itself, designed and built by a team of local Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists – Lennie Hayes (Gunai Bidawal), Elaine Terrick (Gunai Bidawal Wurundjeri), Frances Harrison (Gunai Bidawal Monero), Josephine Jakobi and Cameron Robbins under the direction of acclaimed artistic director Catherine Larkins, collaborating with local boat builders Dean Jakobi and Rory Bolding, and overseen by the most savvy of skippers and safety gurus, Sandy Boswell. Lake Tyers has provided an incomparable pool of vessel building talent.
The vessel which provides live-in accommodation, studio space and room for on-deck workshops will be a source of lake inspired art-making long into the future. It will live gracefully on the lake, in harmony with the native forests and important estuarine environment, nestled in the nooks of this stunning waterway with access primarily by kayak (a water taxi is available as needed).
With the 90 Mile Beach surf crashing in the distance, a brilliant star-filled sky – and a quaint and smiley community just around the bend. There’s the Waterwheel Tavern on the beach, where the lake meets the sea, and where good folk go prawning by torchlight, and the General Store makes its own sausage rolls (and fabulous moussaka, truth be known).
FLOAT is not just for artists, but scientists, writers and researchers – anyone whose work will be informed by the endless possibilities for collaboration and exploration, and by the significant work that is now being created by the local community through their year-long ALMANAC project.
The FLOAT ALMANAC project has been the key to our amazing community connections. On 21 December 2016, we challenged locals to explore their town and their environment to create a year-long journal or series of observations that will be curated and installed at (privately-owned, heritage gem) Lake Tyers House in conjunction with other spaces around town. Weekly ‘Tavern Tuesdays’ bring locals together over coffee and experimental chilli chocolate doughnuts to share their findings, their poetry, their ideas or show off their works-in-progress.
The ALMANAC year is almost up. Summer will be spent finalizing and curating the work for exhibition, opening on 3 February 2018. (And you’re invited! Although, you might have to kayak to the exhibition). We hope you’ll come and find out all about us – in person.
The FLOAT vessel launch date is expected to be in early December with an appropriately glorious and thoughtful celebration on the water. Please follow us at facebook.com/FLOAT.3909 for exact details.
(Yes, much easier said than done – but, thanks to an amazing FLOAT design team, the patient support of the Lake Tyers Beach community, the F.INC team and great support from DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning), East Gippsland Shire Council, and Gippsland Ports and the exceptional Rules & Regs navigation of local Skipper and OH&S guru Sandy Boswell – we are just about there.)