New Wilderness V exhibition – major assignment

Waterfront Geelong students are collaborating on an exhibition for their major project.  This forms the fifth iteration of New Wilderness – a project based on ideas of communities in transition and roughly based on the Occupy Wallstreet movement.

The exhibition is in the Project Space, Deakin University Waterfront Campus, with an opening night on Friday, 25th September 2015, from 6-8pm.

The exhibition explores the changing face of Geelong within wider changes in society and the environment.

A large game board-like path leads participants through the exhibition space, with their progress randomly dictated by the throwing of dice.

Individual and small groups of students will present installations in or around tents (the symbol of The Occupy Movement and New Wilderness).

My tent will feature a monochrome projection with images of tents old and modern, showing the various uses of tents.

Tent image sources

The process:  planning and execution of New Wilderness No. 5

During weeks 7 & 8 lectures, students visited the site for the New Wilderness V exhibition, with workshops on Object (Merinda) and Space (Cameron Bishop).  With the tent as the overarching symbol of New Wilderness, students worked on individual or small group installations.

The week 9 lecture was also held in the Project Space.  The space was divided up for each installation.  Students also discussed how to tie in all the installations.  It was decided to make the entire floor space a life-sized board game (titled Geelongopolus) moving through the space and around all the exhibits.  The board game included many of Geelong’s suburbs, as well as the CBD and waterfront with clues and activities to help exhibition patrons become active participants in the exhibition.

Dylan Foley (of Boom Gallery laying out Geelongopolis in the main room in The Project Space.
Dylan Foley (of Boom Gallery laying out Geelongopolis in the main room in The Project Space.

There was also a floor game – Who’s Who in Geelong for exhibition patrons to match names and occupations to photos of prominent Geelong personalities and VIPs.

Still some people not matched to names and occupations
Who’s Who in Geelong.  After the exhibition.  Still some portraits unmatched to names and occupations

Setup time lapse videos

Because there were two rooms, it was impossible (without more cameras) to record the whole setup. 

There were several other Geelong-focused installations.  Sophie and Annie’s activity was for participants to use old local newspapers to make new headlines for Geelong.

A bag of wooden block inspired Build a New Geelong Suburb.

150927New Wilderness pre bumpout_0003

Visitors were also invited to take a ‘selfie’ beside the bollard of Geelong Advertiser founder James Harrison (this was a wall poster of the actual bollard, on the Geelong waterfront).

bollards web1

Coby’s tent was in balance – with helium balloons representing reasons people might leave Geelong, being brought back to earth by lead sinkers, on which participants were invited to attach reasons that they remain in Geelong.

Koby adds a
Koby adds a “What keeps me in Geelong” captions to sinkers hanging from the tent.
A young participant says why she loves living in Geelong
A young participant outlines why she loves living in Geelong

Liz’s tent also followed the theme of lightening the tent to make it float.  With the help of Merinda, the tent was ‘supported’ by helium balloons.  This symbolised an incident during the ‘Occupy’ movement when, in Berkeley California, the police attempted to move the movement’s tents.  The participants then floated the tents above the space.

Suspended tents at Berkeley California Image source:

Alex is a photographer who specialises in images of skateboarding.  His exhibit was a large-scale projection of still images of skateboarders in buildings and venues around Geelong.

The exhibition opening - showing part of Alex's image of the North Geelong Powerhouse (now a visual arts precinct).
The exhibition opening – showing part of Alex’s image of the North Geelong Powerhouse (now a visual arts precinct).

This was a most evocative work.  Alex has an eye for composition.  For those from the Geelong area, it was also a chance to view spaces from around the city from a skateboarder’s perspective.

Two whimsical gardens were also part of the tent installations.  Clare presented ‘The Garden of Eden’, a community garden with visitors invited to plant a flower in a pot, enter the plant-filled tent and explore the surrounding garden.

Miranda stepped out of the Geelong setting, basing her garden fantasy on Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree.

Early set-up phase of Miranda's The Faraway Tree installation
Early set-up phase of Miranda’s The Faraway Tree installation

Mel’s installation followed her interest in challenging the senses with soundscapes, and the removal of the stimulus of sight.  Participants sat in a chair under her suspended tent, with their head into a blacked out area within the tent base.  They experienced a soundscape of environmental and white noise.

A participant experiences Mel's soundscape.
A participant experiences Mel’s soundscape.

This installation was hung and surrounded by lights – perhaps to comment on the lack visual experience when experiencing the soundscape.

Kerrie’s work reflected on her practice of some years – the theme of books and altered books.  Thus, her tent was filled with miniature book replicas – which also mirrored the traditional tent shape.  She also provided a ‘Little Free Library’ for participants to browse and take home a book.

The theme of book echoing the tent shape was also used in a ‘tent city’ made up of gold spray painted paperbacks.

Book tent village
Book tent village

Tent villages have been used used for many purposes.  A caption explained this.  Geelongopolis also reminded participants that, between the 1940s and 1960s, there was a similar ‘village’ of military Quanset huts in Norlane to house thousands of post-war migrants.  The D.W. Hope migrant centre in Norlane. Image source:


The artists each brought their unique vision to the concept of New Wilderness.  However, the installations were integrated in four ways.

  1. All but one artist embraced the tent theme, using tents in varying ways.
  2. The exhibition was linked by its theme of place – and in particular the environs of Geelong and the particular issues facing Geelong as it moves from an industrial to a post-industrial economy.   The Geelongopolis board game brought participants through the exhibition on various paths, and the Who’s Who? game allowed for some fun as people matched portraits to names and occupations.  Clues in the game also direct participants to participate in the various exhibits, and play the games.
  3. Explanatory captions, provided by Merinda, gave the background to the New Wilderness project, the Occupy movement and the theme of the tent.  She also conceived the paste-up of event posters on in the window of the space, and produced a work encouraging participants to think about the concepts linking the project.
  4. Merinda Kelly organised a performance art event to take place during Cameron Bishop’s opening speech.  Two students dressed in tents (appropriating a woman wearing at tent at Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne during the Occupy movement) ran through the space several times, shouting and closely followed by a security guard.

    The original ‘tent dress’ at Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne, 2011.


In the end my installation included the tent projection (as above), a comment panel for participants, and lights within the tent to accent the tent as a symbol of the New Wilderness.

The original intent had been to project within the tent for viewing through the tent wall.  During testing it wasn’t possible to obtain a large enough projection while the projector was within the tent so the projector was placed within the tent with the projection on a white wall.

Setting up the projection.
Setting up the projection.  For the final version, the tent was moved further from the wall to enable a larger image.  The clarity of the projection was greater at night.
A visitor reads the caption about the significance of the tent.
A visitor reads the caption about the significance of the tent.

New Wilderness No. 5 Reflective Statement