“An ecstatic meditation on ancient takayna/Tarkine wilderness
in sound and words”
That’s the bi-line Emily wrote when she invited me to join her in Tassie to take part in the Tarkine in Motion project, followed by a series of concerts to “cover my airfares”. I jumped. I had nearly visited the Tarkine two years ago, but ended up on Bruny island instead, enjoying the acoustics of the lighthouse there. Following my Bruny lightflute adventure, I returned to Hobart and met Emily in a cave… no wait, that was a separate trip. Here is the blog on our 2015 cave encounter. Anyway. I love performing with Emily, and I certainly wanted to spend time in the Tarkine, and I believe the work Bob Brown and his colleagues are doing to help protect our precious piece of Gondwana Land is so important. I was in!
… So, after our big adventure, [the complete list of Tarkine Adventure blogs is here] we managed to drive Tom’s quirky car “Suzie” all the way around the island. It turns out, she only shudders on square wheels and plays her drums in urban streets. On long rural and wilderness roads she runs like a dream. My kind of girl! We got home to South Hobart on Saturday arvo, with only a few hours to get ready for our first Hobart gig.
Saturday April 2nd: Baha’i Centre, 1 Tasman Hwy, Hobart, 7:30pm
Anne Norman: Shakuhachi, poetry
Emily Sheppard: Violin, poetry
Andrea Breen: Viola, poetry
Dave Reynolds: Didgeridoo and Crystal bowls
It was great to be joined by Andrea Breen who went on the Tarkine in Motion adventure last year. An inventive and adventurous violist, composer and poet. It was also terrific to feature Dave Reynolds whom we met around the campfire in the Tarkine. I feel very lucky to have met all these wonderful people.
None of our audiences in any of the venues clapped between poems or music. It was fabulous. I love an audience that feels comfortable sitting in moments of silence. So, at the end of the Baha’i gig, we performers were rather blown away by a standing ovation. As I was packing up my flutes, two beautiful women (who didn’t know each other) approached me, both with tears in their eyes, wanting to tell me how they felt. They were quite emotional and stuck for words for some time… After they started to gush their feelings, I asked if I could record their thoughts, and this is what I have transcribed.
Anne Bliss and Hania Watt: “It was very moving and evocative and quite overwhelming. I was easily transported to an experience within the Tarkine: trees swaying; ash around me… very vivid… The music and poetry were highly complimentary. You got the insight with the poetry and then the music turned the poetry into a visual theatre of being there in the Tarkine, with things happening around me. The music brought the images within the poetry to life.
And it was beautiful how you moved around the space; it gave us a sense of being in the forest. I had my eyes closed most of the time, but I was watching the instruments as well… there were parts where I was curious – I wanted to see how you produced that sound … the vibrancy of the instruments. It was phenomenal.
On an emotional level I still need to come to terms with the feelings it brought to me. There was an overwhelming sense of this precious life always morphing and changing, and we are a part of that… but the forest is suffering … a deep tragedy…
The politicians need to experience this performance! Take it to parliament house – have a sit-in of environmental artists – occupy … I am very touched.”
Tarkine in Motion (TiM) Photographer, Kelli Nalder: “It was a stunningly moving performance. My husband was also transported into the Tarkine and now feels in part as though he was there with me. Thank you all for such a moving performance.”
TiM film maker Rose Davis: “My 7 year old son, Liam’s favourite instrument was your flute, and he asked if we could play back the recordings we made in the car on the way home.”
This is what I wrote on Facebook the next morning: “It was wonderful to perform last night in the Baha’i Dome in Hobart with Emily Sheppard (violin, voice, poetry, Andrea Breen (viola, voice, poetry), and guest artist Dave Reynolds (didge and crystal bowls). Poetry, music and the Tarkine. Thank you to TiMers Rose Davis and Dan Broun for videoing. And thank you to the audience for sharing the journey with us. You were a small but magic audience. Your silent immersion into our sonic world of poetic images and allusions transported we performers to greater heights. Always a collaboration between all present… Tonight’s show on the mountain will be our smallest venue and largest audience. Many bookings. I guess the summit of Kunanyi has great drawing power. Looking forward to it. Husshh… Takayna listening“
And so we did it all again, with new impros, on the top of Mt Wellington…
Sunday April 3rd: Mt Wellington Observation Shelter, Pinnacle Rd, 5:30pm
“The best performance of any genre of music I have ever heard in my life. Outstanding. Moving.” Alexandra Chernov – audience member at the Mountain gig
Thank you to all those who braved a cold and windy night on the mountain. A big thanks to Jen Cossins for manning the door and ticket sales; thanks to Phil McKercher for videoing and to Arwen Dyer for these photos. There were other TiMers there, I don’t know all your names, but thank you for coming along. May the City of Hobart see the value of staging such events in this amazing observation building on top of the mountain. It really was quite something watching the clouds roll by as the sun set.
And thank you Emily. Without you, none of this would have happened.
LONG LIVE THE TARKINE – Husshh… Takayna listening
but wait… there’s more… just a bit. A few days later we recorded our music and poetry in Hobart at the studio of Caleb Miller. Once that is all edited and mastered, I’ll put a link here, but don’t hold your breath, it takes a little while.