Residents and visitors came together at the Birregurra Mechanics Institute Hall for a weekend of celebration, documentation and reflection to mark the beginning of enLIGHTen Me: I Have a Hall in my Heart.
On Friday 2 December, the boys from The Suitcase Royale performed their junkyard murder mystery The Ballad of Backbone Joe at the hall to a sold-out crowd. Outside in The Yards pop-up village green, local kids had the opportunity to play in a game of LED-lit jump rope with artist Ainslie Macauley and create mini-performances on the outdoor stage.
The project team, led by Fiona Brandschied, Chris Barter and many others, put together a jam-packed weekend program of activity designed to stimulate, inspire and excite. You can keep up with the project on their Facebook page and website.
Saturday saw a quick turn-around, with a hive of volunteers from the Birregurra Senior Citizen's Centre, the local CWA and the project team transforming the hall into a buzzing archival centre. Precious artefacts from the hall's history were on display, including a generational exhibit of wedding and debutante dresses featuring one of the scarier mannequins we've ever seen.
Project Steering Committee chair Desma Hutchinson introduced lead artists Craig Walsh and Gorkem Acaroglu, who will be creating site-specific artistic responses to the hall in collaboration with the local community. Craig and Gorkem gave a brief history of their work, and outlined some of the possibilities for what could be created in Birregurra.
All afternoon, a crew of volunteers worked to capture stories of the hall, memories of the hall and portraits of those entwined in its history. The team scanned documents and captured video and audio recordings that will serve as a base of knowledge, history and narrative for the future creative responses to the hall.
Of course, the afternoon wouldn't have been complete without an exquisite spread from the local CWA chapter, ably aided by some young chefs from the community. The celebrations wrapped up at the Royal Mail Hotel across the street with an encore performance by the Suitcase Royale.
In Birregurra, we found a community buzzing with possibility. We were totally blown away by their willingness to get stuck in and contribute - almost everyone in town was involved as artist, audience, storyteller or volunteer at some point during the weekend.
We're so excited to see how their energy and creative imagination will be applied to the Hall to realise its potential. Until next time, Birregurra!