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Five Weeks in Spring: an emotional map of Lilydale, 2018

Five Weeks in Spring: an emotional map of Lilydale was a participatory artwork at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. In collaboration with Melbourne artist Tammy Wong Hulbert, I developed a socially engaged artwork with community members to identify and effect local social issues related to public space. The project was part of the exhibition, Force of Nature, curated by choreographer/ dancer Gretel Taylor, and realised as a time-based performance and artist residency in the art gallery.  

"Seeking radical ways of engaging with nature through art," curator Gretel Taylor invited leading Australian performance and visual artists to respond to the theme ‘force of nature’ with an emphasis on participation and performance. Artists included myself and Tammy Wong Hulbert, Jill Orr, Peter Fraser, Myfanwy Hunter, Laki Sideris, Gulsen Ozer, Tony Yap and others. 

Five Weeks in Spring aimed to register local citizens' emotions in response to the changing natural environment. After workshopping concepts, words and colours with patrons of the local library  over a number of weeks, we transferred individual map data on the the large wall map. As the artwork became saturated by the layering of boldly coloured brick sized stamps, it became increasingly difficult for visitors to locate themselves. But we could clearly see the areas of contention – fear of bush fires and winds, joy felt in parks and the natural environment, anger about rapid business development, sadness about loss of public space and so on… Mixed emotions and nostalgia were expressed through stories and even debates between residents were raised regarding climate change and extreme weather events.

The creation of this work was influenced by performance artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Three Weeks in May (1979), a durational installation which visualised the location of reported sexual assaults in Los Angeles. Five Weeks in Spring stimulated dialogue amongst citizens, decision makers and gallery audiences, contributing to an enhanced understanding of local place. The emotional mapping project registered both violence and care for the environment. This project is one in a series of creative cartographies I developed using mapping methods and social practices of dialogue to stimulate exchange about local issues.

Badham, M. and Wong Hulbert, T., (2018) Five Weeks in Spring: an emotional map of Lilydale, participatory artwork, Force of Nature exhibition, curated by Gretel Taylor, Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale, Victoria, Australia.

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