Is it all over?

Monday 6 August the pit was opened 24 hours after it was set alight and it worked!

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This is my last creative observation for the camp and a most satisfactory way to leave Coward Springs. I leave soon after, but some of the artists stay for another day (the gale forecast for Backstairs Passage means that Tuesday is not the day to be ferrying home).

I head off to two places I visited about 12 years ago, when I was fortunate to participate in a regional tour to the Flinders Ranges. Back then the state government organised trips by regional people to other regions so they could learn from them about business, community and tourism possibilities. It was a very rewarding experience and many ideas have stayed with me.

The first place I revisited was Old Beltana, a State Heritage town. On the regional trip we’d met young people who had a vision of rebuilding the town, which was almost empty. Now the permanent population is 35, and about 20 houses are inhabited – some are new but most have been restored. It was fantastic to see.

The other was Blinman, a most picturesque town. I stayed at the North Blinman Hotel, an extremely hospitable establishment. And dinner, of meatloaf and mash, was just the ticket.

What a beautiful experience the camp has been. It might seem that all the artists on Kangaroo Island would know each other well but it’s a big island and we are widespread, and all with our own lives to be getting on with. How fortunate we are to have this time to spend getting to know one another and one another’s art practice. It’s a shame more artists couldn’t be squeezed in.

Prue and Greg were the perfect hosts at Coward Springs Campground – so generous, so accommodating, so helpful. It’s been inspiring to be around two people who have transformed a desert ruin into a campground with character, and everything you could want for a stay-over. Thank you so much for everything.

And for anyone heading out on the Oodnadatta Track, call in and stay a night or two. And enjoy.

Island to Outback is supported by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund through Country Arts SA

 

 

Capturing the spirit

Like the artists on the Island to Outback camp, Dave and Ruth are brimful of ideas for the type of film they can make to portray the creative endeavour. Or will it be films plural?

Ruth says she first envisaged a documentary of the camp in a fairly straight way but what we are now thinking is a film of the art camp, and an installation.

David, the cameraman, is thinking the installation would be shown on 2 monitors, each with its own moving image – maybe one shot evolving slowly and the other in contrast constantly changing. Playing with the concept of time and space.

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Ruth incognito, Dave on camera and Gethin getting down to capture the sound

As far as the documentary is concerned, he can see a Kangaroo Island environment set against the Coward Springs environment, using the artists as a vehicle for that. He intends to follow them up back on the island.

They are following a documentary narrative, keeping it as free as they can but they do need structure. The artists are insisting on being their own person in their own creative way. Ruth and Dave say that they do like that much of the time the artists wander off on their own even though it is hard to film them without being intrusive.

They know that they have to be ready for whatever is happening. ‘You roll the camera and then you find out what is going on,’ Dave says.

One artist goes to the same place every day; one constantly wanders to different places, for example to collect. One stands by their easel barely moving for hours; one flits from one thing to another, never working on one thing for too long. Some are natural in front of the camera; others aren’t.

Ruth, whose background is in costume design, says that on a film set she adheres to a strict schedule. Here, no one is in charge and the schedule is non-existent.

What they have seen is artists having a go at practices or media that they have never considered before and finding a way that they can make it their own.

Dave acknowledges what a blessing it has been to have Gethin bring his sound expertise to their filming.

I speak to them both during a break in reviewing the 9 hours of footage they have already shot. They are assessing what they have and what is missing. Dave thinks that they might capture at least another 2 hours and they might end up with up to 15 hours – which will have to be brought down to about 25 to 30 minutes.

Island to Outback is supported by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund through Country Arts SA