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School for UNtourists — MKII

The FLOAT crew have partnered with NGV to launch the new School for UNtourists program at the historic Slipway Sheds in Lakes Entrance.

Mar 26, 2021

Words: Andrea Lane

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We’ve been working away at this for a few years now as a community of like-minds. Adventurous, experimental artists, as well as passionate scientists and citizen scientists.

FLOAT. We designed it. We built it. We operate it. We share it. We look after it. And we learn a lot about the Lake as we do. Artists come from all over the place. They taste us. They stay. They share their work here, and to a global audience. They come back.

They bring friends. Over and over.

OBSERVATORIUM. We know this is a really important job for us here on the Gippsland Lakes. We paddle. We sit. We notice things. We gather sounds — like the bats in the trees around us. We hear the fish jumping underneath us. We notice the weather. We noticed when the lake got so low that we collectively held our breath for rain.

THE VESSEL. We fret about greywater, compost loos, its systems, freshwater, algae, jetties and lifejackets. We repair. We maintain. We plan the next big thing. We induct the next artist, clean and prepare the vessel and then paddle them out to their extraordinary residence, towing their belongings with us.

Yes — we still get overwhelmed at times with the job of ‘doing it all’ — but there’s something much bigger going on here. We rely on the artists who come to stay, to understand that it’s not really about them. Or us. It’s ‘life’ as we know it. It’s shaping a future for what art can be in regional communities. Do we cop flak about being arty wankers? Occasionally — but, honestly, not that often.

Do we get confronted by ‘So — what is FLOAT doing for the community’ cynicism? Yes, once to my face. It’s a reminder that our arty preoccupation can be misunderstood as indulgent rather than the hard philanthropic work we know it to be.

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Photography: Keelan O’Hehir
Photography: Keelan O’Hehir

ECONOMICS. There’s such a long history of art being given away. We need a new art economy. Now, let’s think harder about the economics of real life, real value, real jobs, real tourism — and all the things we long for to provide happy balanced lives for the good people who live here, and those who want to live here too. An economics that shifts the value of things.

For us that includes valuing knowledge — and making that knowledge a career path. Turning knowledge into income — but not in the usual way.

Yeah, yeah — you’ve heard it all before — in theory. But we’re really giving it a good crack. (And, I think we can thank Creative Victoria and Regional Arts Victoria for paying such close attention to our thinking.)

SCHOOL FOR UNTOURISTS. We’ve demonstrated what FLOAT can be, what artists bring to it. We’ve hinted at why we think of it as a COMMUNIVERSITY (because of the local knowledge it runs on), and why we’re now imagining a faux PhD at the School for UNtourists, with an ever-expanding OBSERVATORIUM across the Gippsland Lakes.

So, if you’ve been following FLOAT for the last few years, you might know most of that and are thinking we’re on to something.

Well, now the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) agrees — and we’ll be partnering with them to launch our new School for UNtourists program here at the Slipway Sheds in Lakes Entrance this Easter.

This is a big deal for FLOAT, art in East Gippsland and new creative economies everywhere. It’s our chance to put a new model of regional viability on show, as an evolving model for the policy makers to see and feel. And understand. And love.

And so… FLOAT and School for UNtourists Curator Lichen Kelp joined forces with Waterfront to create a seven-day program (Tuesday 30 March — Monday 5 April) to explain (almost) everything.

See the Waterfront wrap up here.

Photography: Mathew Bate
Photography: Mathew Bate


EASY LAUNCH @ Lake Tyers Beach Waterwheel Tavern (Late arvo)

LIVING BUNG YARNDA Gets Going – How + Why. Community-led/University-supported Environmental Monitoring.

RETHINKING REGIONAL RECOVERY Architects rethink design and (re)construction in bushfire affected places.

GLaWAC Welcome + Walk + Conversation @ Gunaikurnai Land And Waters Aboriginal Corporation.

KAYAK SOUND ORCHESTRA @ FLOAT. School for Untourists / Forum of Sensory Motion.

WATERWORKS @ FLOAT. Creative responses to compost loos. Minimising waste + impact on the Lake.

SEAWEED APPRECIATION SOCIETY @ SODAFISH. Seaweed-design dinner on a floating restaurant.

END OF AN ERA The Last Gippsland Lakes Fishermen @ the SLIPWAY, Lakes Entrance

OB OUTSIDE BROADCAST ABC Gippsland @ the ICEWORKS, Lakes Entrance


SLIPWAY SALON A series of creative, sustainable, entrepreneur discussions. Mat Bate of Seaweed Appreciation Society International / Nikki Henningham Oral Historian of National Library of Australia’s Oral History and Folklore / Gab + Chris Moore of Sailors Grave Brewing / Charles Davidson of Peninsula Hot Springs / Rachel Bromage of Metung Hot Springs / Matt Sykes of Great Victorian Bathing Trail / Michael Duncan of Gippslandia.

FOLLOW Self-guided walks curated by FLOAT.


Photography: Keelan O’Hehir
Photography: Keelan O’Hehir

Waterfront​ is presented by Centre for Architecture | Open House Melbourne as part of Melbourne Design Week — an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV​.

School for UNtourists has received a Regional Arts Fund grant to assist in the delivery of this project. The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund is provided through Regional Arts Australia, administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria.

Melbourne Design Week 2021: ​Design the World You Want

A critical role of design is to imagine and create alternative worlds with inventions, products, services, environments, materials and processes that respond to current issues and improve the quality of life for everyone. In 2021, Melbourne Design Week asks: Which world will we make together when we know tomorrow will be very different to today?

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Gippslandia is a community, non-profit publication. We curate an ever-optimistic take on regional, national and global issues, in a local context. Leaving you feeling like a Gippslandia local, no matter where you’re from. Read more

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