Launch of The Girgarre Revival

On Saturday 12 November, the team at Regional Arts Victoria headed up to Girgarre to celebrate the first project launch. We found a community buzzing with excitement, and a park buzzing with weird and wacky sounds emanating from a strange new arrival.

The Beast (Photo: Will McRostie)

The Beast (Photo: Will McRostie)

If you drive through Girgarre, you might spot a very unfamiliar shape in the public reserve by the town hall.

Plonked down like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey, this Kubrickian monolith is a giant, human-activated theremin, designed by sound and light artist Robin Fox. In front of a crowd of about 100 from Girgarre and beyond, Robin switched on his creation much to everyone's delight.

Photo: Will McRostie

Photo: Will McRostie

A theremin is a musical instrument that plays tones, samples and notes based on changes in the electromagnetic field that it emanates. A standard theremin is played with two hands that don't touch the instrument, and its sound is usually associated with classic sci-fi. 

Robin's version is a little bigger, activated by the movements of up to eight bodies in the field around it. A camera at the top of the antenna feeds information about where people are to the instrument which generates the tones.

Its presence is designed to inspire a community that has just launched its Small Town Transformations project The Girgarre Revival. The project will see world-renowned artists like Robin, composer Graham Leak and quilter Gloria Loughman visit Girgarre to help the community create with sound.

Already the home of the Girgarre Moosic Muster, the town is steeped in musical talent and tinkerer's know-how that will be put to use on a series of ambitious projects in the hall and the blossoming Gargarro Botanical Gardens, which are under development on the site of the former Heinz factory in town.

As project leader Jan Smith said: "It's been an amazing journey for this community, and the further we've gone along and the more we've connected, the greater the ideas.

"Now instead of outside ideas, the ideas are coming from within! It's taught us to dream dreams that no small community usually has the opportunity to dream"

Jan Smith and Robin Fox (Photo: Will McRostie)

Jan Smith and Robin Fox (Photo: Will McRostie)

We can't wait to see what else the people of Girgarre are going to dream up between now and 2018.

If you're headed up north, you can stop in at Girgarre Public Reserve on Winter Rd and have a play with the giant theremin between 10am and 5pm every day until April 2017.

Congratulations to Jan, Lisa, Carrie, Robin and the whole team working on the Girgarre Revival for such a fantastic day!