“To Make A Connection” – Artist Graham Eatough on Nomanslanding
Nomanslanding, a spectacular and unique interactive public artwork that is floating on Cockle Bay as part of the Centenary of ANZAC commemoration, is the ambitious work of five artists and three curators across three countries. In a new series, we’ll be delving a little deeper into the process and the story behind it with all five artists.
I’m Graham Eatough. I’m a theatre director who also works in visual arts and film, so in a sense I’m the odd one out in the group, not having a background in visual arts. I started out running a Glasgow-based experimental theatre company called Suspect Culture in the 90’s with a Scottish writer, David Greig. We worked collaboratively with other theatre artists to devise new work that was presented throughout the UK and internationally. Towards the end of Suspect Culture I started to work with visual artists on projects that combined performance, installation and sometimes film. As well as continuing to direct theatre, I’ve been creating these interdisciplinary projects for the last 8 years or so, and I think Nomanslanding would fall into that category.
Lorenzo Mele, who is the Director of the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow, was involved in the early planning of the project with the other two curators, Michael Cohen from Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Katja Aßmann of Urbane Künste Ruhr. He and I have worked together in the past and he has seen my work over the past few years. I think he thought I would be someone who could bring some experience of working with performance to the project, as well as being sensitive to a visual arts context.
For me the best thing about Darling Harbour as a context is the ready-made audience it gives us access to. As well as attracting a huge amount of people, Darling Harbour is a very international place with lots of tourists and visitors to the city. I think this encouraged us to think about the project in a certain way to make sure it could speak across cultures and communicate the universal aspects of the themes we’re looking at. Then of course there’s the historical role Darling Harbour has played in Australia’s history, immigration, and in World War I.
I guess the main difference between a Scottish or European idea of the First World War, and an Australian view, is that our perspective is very much of the trench warfare in Flanders and France, and the Australian view centres on the Gallipoli campaign and everything [Gallipoli] went on to mean in terms of Australia’s sense of its own nationhood. Like the rest of the UK, Scotland sent a lot of men to the front, many of whom died there. I think Nomanslanding tries to make a connection between these men and those they were fighting by literally bridging the divide between them, represented in our piece by the water on which the work is situated.
Thu 2 Apr – Sun 3 May
11am – 7pm (last entry 6:30pm)
Full program and getting here