Words by Bluzal Field. Images courtesy the artists and Burrinja Cultural Centre.
HillsceneLIVE is a unique nine-month artist gestation program that culminates in a two-day festival on 17 and 18 November, set in the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges.
Since 2014, hillsceneLIVE has been supporting artists to create bold new work that explores all facets of live experimental art, including sound, dance, installation, audiovisual and especially work that doesn’t fit into these categories. This year, there are 15 new intriguing works being presented at the festival as part of the program. hillsceneLIVE Festival Director, Toni Main, says:
‘We ask artists that apply to our program to come to us with an idea, or a question that needs to be explored, and not a finished piece of work. We create a space to delve into that exploration, with a series of incubators, professional development sessions and experimental art workshops over a nine-month period. Throughout that time the hillsceneLIVE team are there to support, provoke and converse with each artist as they make their new work. Take local musician Edward Willoughby for example, through this program he has explored not just sound-making but the experience of stage fright and created an experiential work that is part-theatre and part-sound that places stage fright at centrestage in a cumulative revelation of a private, inner song.’
The result of this process is depth. The strength and integrity of the work presented at hillsceneLIVE is achieved because of the opportunity and support provided by the program. This year sees the inclusion of local, Melbourne and interstate-based artists heading to the Dandenong Ranges, enticed by the quality of the program.
hillsceneLIVE aims to bring new life to disused or underused spaces throughout the Dandenong Ranges. The festival is set in unconventional spaces; in the past it has been staged in an old office, in empty shopfronts and even the main street of Belgrave, with its hidden alleyways and secret corners. This year, the festival will inhabit the beautiful natural landscape of Birdsland Reserve in Belgrave Heights. Main says:
‘What sets hillsceneLIVE apart from other art festivals based in the city is the inspirational natural landscape. Many artists have chosen to make their work in response to the landscape, incorporating the wetlands, sloping hills, fields and vegetation into the work. They have spent time investigating the surrounds and embedding the natural environment into their performative offerings.’
There are many examples of this, but highlights include local performer, Dani-Ela Kayler’s ‘Desquamate’, a dance with the tall grasses as she sheds her layers, or ‘…pieces of silver’, developed and presented by Louise Morris and Kirsten Prins who are creating an installation and performative response to the Birdsland site. Drawing upon the theme of violence against women, the installation responds to two specific areas on the site – the old heritage cottage and the hidden and forgotten walkway down near the swamplands. They have collated research to reflect the number of women who have been affected by violence since the land was cleared for grazing and crop production 150 years ago.
The festival is designed to be an experience, offering ticketholders a variety of workshops such as Bush Poetry with Leo Lazaurus, where you can use the power of writing and the energy of the bush to tap into internal and external worlds; or learn how to juggle with French juggler Anso. If participating isn’t for you, then get deep into conversation with our extensive critical conversation series that discusses the challenges, insights and obsessions of the artists engaged in the hillsceneLIVE program. All packed into two days in Birdlsand reserve.
hillsceneLIVE is a festival supported by Burrinja since 2014. This year saw the festival expand its scope thanks to funding received from Yarra Ranges Council and Creative Victoria.
When: 17–18 November
Where: Birdsland Reserve – 271 Mt Morton Rd, Belgrave Heights
For tickets and to find out more go to www.hillscenelive.com