For Holmes, the value of being part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) has been the exposure to creatives from diverse backgrounds. Among those she met at SDW 2018 was the Singaporean multidisciplinary artist who goes by the moniker Ferry. The duo paired up to work on Holmes’ project Move Along, a walking art experience.
Move Along was inspired by the similarities between the post-colonial cities of Adelaide and Singapore, and is a site-specific live artwork that explores the universal stories of love and loss, urban renewal and dispossession. With the Bras Basah.Bugis (BBB) district as the backdrop, Holmes has designed a soundtrack to respond to Singapore’s streets.
Creating a site-specific work when one is not a local or on-site has its challenges. “Working with Ferry over the past year has been wonderful because she not only understands the environment and culture, she’s also familiar with the type of work I’m trying to make.”
Ferry adds, “It was really engaging to riff off each other and just dialogue about possibilities. Cross-border just meant she’s there, I’m here. Artistically, that didn’t matter at all. For me, collaboration is always about finding common ground and learning from each other’s stories and perspectives. What was most interesting for me was seeing the whole process unfold – how music can change the atmosphere of a place, which may have become commonplace, and form new connections to it.”
For Holmes, who also choreographed a live performance, it was a massive learning experience. After producing others’ work for years, this experience has given her a new confidence to make her own. “I’ve never made a work like this before, and I’ve already started dreaming up new projects.”
The common thread
For Sydney-based museum professional and emerging writer Jane Beeke, travelling to Singapore and experiencing first-hand the work of Singaporean creatives at SDW 2018, informed her approach to The Community Thread in a big way.
In particular, the district activation at Holland Village – which she found “fantastically fun, accessible and cerebral” – and the Open House at Emerald Hill, which moved her with its “brave interrogation of colonial myth-making”.
Beeke enjoyed Holland Village’s district activation’s
exhibits, including this “phone jail”.
Photo courtesy of Jane Beeke
“I like the idea of putting heritage back on the streets and into communities in a way that is a bit wacky and unexpected and fun,” says Beeke, who teamed up with a multidisciplinary crop of Singaporean creatives to design an augmented reality (AR) walking tour celebrating the heritage of the BBB district.
“As a writer, I’m used to working alone and carrying all my ideas in my head. Even in cultural institutions, I work fairly autonomously. So it was a shift in thinking for me to communicate in more detail around my ideas and planning, and then to do so primarily in a digital format.”
The self-guided walking tour traces a schoolgirl’s journey through the busy streets of 1930s BBB, and invites participants to follow the narrative through five sites in Queen Street and Waterloo Street.
The co-created work features typographical artwork by theregularjo, and AR activations by MeshMinds. “Stories about the past come to define our sense of belonging, and so it’s absolutely vital that everyone gets a chance to participate in their creation,” says Beeke, who also worked with local design studio Participate in Design to enable participants to add their own chapters to the story.