As part of the Centenary of Canberra, a unique site-specific work was presented at the site of the old Oakbank Brewery in Narrandera on a perfect autumn evening on Sat 20 April 2013. Guests were invited to arrive at 5:30 pm and bring picnic rugs and snacks in order to enjoy the music of local artist Graham Strong before settling in to watch a series of short films. Vic and Sarah McEwan, also known as The Cad Factory, have spent the last four months working with community members to try and capture what it means to live in this part of the Murray-Darling Basin and have used a number of techniques, including animation, to bring these stories to life. The video projection content has been generated through interviews with local people who have different relationships to water and the river system.
Creative Director of the Centenary of Canberra, Robyn Archer AO, opened the event by recalling her own early life growing up on the banks of the Murray River at Cadell, where her grandfather ran the punt. The occasion of the Canberra centenary presented a wonderful opportunity to give voice to the many stories of river life in the Murray- Darling Basin and bring these to national attention. Tipping Point is one of ten local projects that will occur over the next four months throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, and Robyn is looking forward to welcoming all the artists to Canberra over the weekend of Fri 23 – Sun 25 August for a finale presentation of One River.
In spite of an unavoidable date clash with the local Debutante Ball, approximately 300 residents enjoyed a cool but still autumn evening on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, where the brewery is located. Now in private hands, the building, which dates from 1912, played an important role in the development of the area, providing beer and non-alcoholic beverages for many riverina towns until it was decommissioned in the 1970s.
Vic and Sarah’s project references a location about a kilometre from the old Birrego School where they live. There is a rise in the land which is the divide between two catchment areas, the Murray and the Murrumbidgee. “The ‘Tipping Point’ is practical and literal but it’s also poetic and leads us to think about the tipping points and balances that we all have as humans,” Vic said. “This project is interested in exploring the psychological, environmental and social tipping points and balances of local people in terms of their relationship with water.”
Tipping Point is presented as part of the Narrandera’s 150 year celebrations. Both cities, Narrandera and Canberra are having major birthdays in the same year. Narrandera is 50 years older than Canberra, which, as Vic likes to point out, makes Narrandera her older distant brother connected through a family of waterways.
Just prior to the presentation of Tipping Point in Narrandera, Vic McEwan and Robyn Archer, along with One River Local Proejct Manager Donna Jackson, were guests on Michael Cathcart’s Radio National program ‘Books and Arts Daily’, and this can be heard here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandartsdaily/one-river/4638756
Prime News also covered this event for the evening news onFri 19 April and this can be viewed here: http://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n4/news/a/-/local/16808204/narrandera-lights-up-video/