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Artist FeatureCulture

Ode to the scallop.

FLOAT will soon inhabit the Slipway in orange and white as a tribute to the humble scallop.

Aug 6, 2020

Words: Andrea Lane
Images: Supplied

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FLOAT has grown to become a collective of disparate yet convergent interests. We’re in constant conversation with the community around us. Some of us are great artists. Some of us are ordinary non-artists. We all love our nature. And the quirkiness of Gippslandians.

But mostly, we are a group who love what art does.

FLOAT will soon inhabit the Slipway. When permits permit.

Why O+W?

What drives us to imagine exhibitions, installations and experiences? Artistic projects that will provoke the finest — and newest — creatives in the region to make work that collectively says so much about life… all while being located five or six hours away from the Melbourne CBD.

Is it the scarcity of shared and public art that compels us to shout ‘We do this!’? Even when there is nothing in the whole of government that encourages us to do so?

Mostly, it starts with a midnight epiphany, the blurt of an idea, and then a leap of faith. We must also have the belief that others will leap with us.

We like the rhythm. The constant roll of ideas. And, occasionally, the hard yakka of exhibiting.

We’re not pedantic about how things will work ‘on the day’. The dates. The minor details. The fine print.

And the artists reciprocate with spontaneity. And a love of being ‘in’: involved, instinctive and included. They give back with flexibility. They spark adventures in art and ideas. They drive to my door with art under their arm, and show me jauntily from the driveway what they’ve done, while my dog licks them to pieces.

We know it’s important that our project idea has a direct connection to this place. That it demands a response to a purposeful brief.

“We wonder out loud about how to avoid being a country cliché"

A challenge to comply… But enough wriggle room for people to be themselves.

We wonder out loud about how to avoid being a country cliché.

How to love Lakes Entrance: fish and chips, seagulls, mini-golf and all. But to love it differently.

What is it that makes you want to hear all those stories that seem so goddamn dull when they come without art attached? We err towards simple themes. Familiar, yet with scope for the subversive. For those who appreciate our passion for sustainable change, regenerative culture and circular economies, we are grateful for more companions for change. Our ambition is to woo an audience with generosity, not threats of doom.

We’ve dabbled in this colour+colour realm a few times before.

BLACK & WHITE (2007) was a purposeful expression of reconciliation. Sunburn & Zinc (2010) became a red-and-white summer exhibition; when a local walked past us with togs, towel and an achingly peeling back — the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the ‘70s.

This time… the scallop took our fancy. All orange and white.

Scallops have been a big deal around Lakes. A gold rush, some say. An overly plundered harvest, others might mutter. We are mindful of the many modern parallels in this time of ecological tragedy.

“Scallops have been a big deal around Lakes"

An artspace that evokes our fishing culture, shared around a long table of seafood, freshly tossed up to us from the wharf.

We figured an O+W exhibition would do all of that.

But, no, we don’t particularly want to SEE scallops in the art.

(Okay, a couple might get through. But seriously, not many!)

Covid-19 times and their iso-related lockdowns have required us to take an uber-flexible approach to this project.

We wanted to see art in print. In a mag that’s proud to support artists (here in Gippslandia, where artists would kill to be seen).

Not to examine the detail of every work. But a grid of thumbnails that hint at the diversity — the signature inclusivity of what we do.

We promised artists an online gallery for global exposure and online sales — attracting interest from afar. And, as soon as we can, a Slipway Shed filled with 30 cm x 30 cm O+W work hung between the studs of an uncomplicated shed.

While we share our chowder and dream of the art to come.

So… To work.

Enter at

Come visit

Why support the evolution of the Slipway by entering, attending or buying O+W art?

Because it represents our paradigm shift.

An abandoned shed, with a beguiling slip, in a fishing town.

Lustfully watched by the best damn seafood wench around.

Chef Sam Mahlook knows the fisherfolk well and cooks like a fishy diva.

Then there’s Sallie Jones with her extreme Gippsland Jersey nous and her relentless love of the dairy industry. There’s her passion to rebuild her dad’s dairy too, out the back of Lakes.

Blow me down. Gab Moore arrived with her fancy beer (yep — Sailor’s Grave, no less). A perfect food + beer + company storm is brewing.

And the art? That’s YOU, FLOAT.

The Slipway is the gallery of our dreams. Bare studs and salty draughts. With those sliding doors spilling forth the scent of scallops and seagull shit.

And there are the stories. Of boats and nets. Of fishy riches and harvests plundered. Of Lenny Hayes, yarning. Catching fish along the Arm. Running with the kids that camped in the Bunga gully, down the road from Sallie’s dad’s dairy 50 years ago.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you know the answer, East Gippsland burned to a cinder.

Our town’s died a little and a lot.

But we’re almost there. Planning to launch this summer, instead of the last.

Stay in touch via, and just like the best fish and chippery, you’ll hear from us when we’re ready.

FLOAT is a floating art studio on Lake Tyers.
We offer residencies on the water.
It’s a (fairly luxurious) space for artists and writers who love being wild.
They live and work there in splendid isolation.
But it’s not a gallery (‘cos you need to kayak there to get on board).

The Slipway Sheds are two long-abandoned boatsheds on the wharf
at Lakes Entrance.
They live just up the road from FLOAT.
It’s not a gallery. But it’s an artspace of the most desirable kind.
Authentic. Rustic. Full of stories.
And we have grand plans to fill it with art and life.

With help from local augmented and virtual reality specialist,

Lee Nickless, we are prototyping a VR experience of the O + W exhibition. To visit our underwater display, visit and follow the links.

to Gippslandia.

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