(many and various/representation or impression)
From Creative Producer, Alysha Herrmann*
Manifold Portrait is a little dream of mine that has been bubbling away for a little while now.
Way back in 2008, I visited Manifold Park (now re-re-named Rotary Park) in Berri with a bunch of enthusiastic young people doing an ‘audit of public spaces’ with/for the Berri Barmera Council. Before we even got off the bus, we were told to ‘not even bother making suggestions’ for Rotary Park because ‘everything just gets wrecked’.
I’d been part of of many communities/demographics that are ‘talked about’ (in the negative) rather than ‘talked with’ and so that experience with Rotary Park in 2008 really got under my skin.
I wanted to do something here both from a sense of justice but also because something in the visual geography of Rotary Park nestled in among the houses sang to my little theatre heart. I could just see in my head that something really amazing could happen here.
I went away and did other things, but I kept thinking about Manifold Crescent/ Derrick Street and its park. I kept thinking about street parties, community festivals, backyard cinemas and the theatre I make, which is really just about sharing people’s stories in a stylised (theatrical) way. Then I read about a project called Minto: Live curated by Rosie Dennis – a neighbourhood walk where people came out from their homes and performed a 7minute dance inspired by their lives on their front lawns – and I loved the idea and the many things I’d been thinking about Rotary Park started to come together to form the seeds of ‘Manifold Portrait’.
I was lucky enough to participate in a two week residency with Rosie Dennis**, the curator of Minto: Live in 2014, where I had the opportunity to ask many questions about what the project was actually like in the flesh (and in early 2015 I had the opportunity to see Bankstown: Live, another project by Rosie along similar lines). Manifold Portrait is not Minto: Live. This community is different to Minto and I am a different artist to Rosie, but certainly Rosie and her work have offered great inspiration for which I am very grateful!
So – what is Manifold Portrait?
Manifold Portrait is an invitation. An invitation to see, to make, to talk, to believe.
Manifold Portrait is a community arts and cultural development project bringing together professional artists with residents of Manifold Crescent and Derrick Street, surrounding Rotary Park. A long-term artistic commitment to developing a collection of outcomes which nurture resilience, connection and community. Each year builds on the work of the last and eventually we’ll have quite a collection of artistic ‘things’ – poems, songs, photographs, projections, performances, sculptures, moments, experiences. We’ll be sharing those things using the park, people’s fences, mail boxes, driveways, cars, backyards and lounge rooms – because art doesn’t just have to happen in galleries and theatres and large scale events.
Things will evolve, shift, change, not work, work, be entirely different to what we expect. It’s both terrifying and exciting. Like all the best things in life are.
Click on ‘What’ in the menu to see more about the recent work and the current focus in 2016.
Throughout the process there will be opportunities for local residents to participate, collaborate and create. There will be opportunities for artists to participate, collaborate and create. There will be opportunities for audience to enter, exit and remember. I hope to see you somewhere along the journey.
*Full disclosure – there was a time I hated the arts (and theatre especially) and thought it was a waste of time and money. You can read the details of my first Arts experience here: https://griffithreview.com/articles/not-for-me/ It’s pretty self explanatory how that experience continues to shape my commitment to projects like Manifold Portrait.
**the residency with Rosie was part of Vitalstatistix’ yearly Adhocracy – an artist hothouse/thinktank/incubator/making-place.Vitals are an amazing South Australian company and were the co-producers of the first project I was ever involved with (Random Girls). Every year they support a range of residencies and other opportunities for artists, which you can read more about on their website here.
Manifold Portrait in 2015 was supported by Country Arts SA as part of their This Is A River project and with some of Alysha’s Australia Council Kirk Robson Award. Some dreaming time for the project was supported in 2014 with the assistance of Country Arts SA and proudly supported by The Australia Council’s Community Partnership. With thanks also to Steve Mayhew for helping keep Alysha on track in beginning to wrangle this baby into something vaguely coherent.