SWARM

Things to do, Walks and tours
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SWARM 1 (Photograph: Ken Leanfore)
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Photograph: Ken Leanfore
L-R: artists Denis Beaubois, Bhenji Ra, Matt Prest and Amala Groom
SWARM 2 (Photograph: Ken Leanfore)
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Photograph: Ken Leanfore
Bhenji Ra
SWARM 2016 3 (Photograph: Ken Leanfore)
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Photograph: Ken Leanfore
Matt Prest

Take a live art tour through Campbelltown's CBD with five artists

For just two hours on Saturday October 1 you can enjoy the fruits of almost 18 months of work by five artists. Head to Queen Street Mall in Campbelltown for SWARM, a two-hour guided tour that takes you through the mall via five different experiences – including an access-all-areas fun run through the mall, and a modern version of the traditional Fijian lovo (a celebratory feast where the food is cooked in an underground oven).

Having attended lovos in Fiji from a young age, artist Salote Tawale learned how to prepare one by working with the local community, and will work with builders to construct a contemporary version in a small park off the mall. A pig will be cooked, as well as 15 chickens marinated as preparation, taro, and a ‘palusami’ (a mixture of meat, coconut and spices wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in the underground oven).

Your $10 ticket for SWARM includes this meal – and Tawale notes that usually the people eating it would have also prepared it, so we reckon you’re getting a good deal here.

Artist Matt Prest, meanwhile, has devised a 3km obstacle course to be undertaken as a kind of orienteering exercise for ticket holders (travel at your own pace) and for teams of joggers representing several local businesses in the Queen Street Mall (competitively – there will be prizes, and glory). You can sign up to run as part of a team, or just walk it non-competitively. 

SWARM is curated by Branch Nebula (Mirabelle Wouters and Lee Wilson) and features five ‘live artworks’. Besides Tawale and Prest, the line-up features Wiradjuri artist Amala Groom, who learned to build a traditional gunyah (a shelter constructed from branches and foliage) with members of the local indigenous community; Denis Beaubois, who has worked with locals and school children to put together a time capsule that will be ceremonially buried as part of the SWARM tour; and dancer/choreographer Bhenji Ra, who will perform a new choreography that mixes her trademark vogueing skills with martial arts.

SWARM is a part of Campbelltown Arts Centre’s annual 'live art’ program, which focuses each year on partnering artists, curators and local communities to reclaim and reimagine public space (previous editions include Minto: Live, curated by Rosie Dennis, and Temporary Democracies in Airds, curated by Paul Gazzola – bot taking place in suburbs adjacent to Campbelltown).

SWARM takes the action to Campbelltown Arts Centre’s doorstep, focusing on a ‘main street’ that was, as C-A-C curator Fran Barrett points out, one of the suburb’s first sites of colonisation and development. These days it’s a mix of jumble of fast food outlets, colonial architecture, nail bars and retro arcades.

“People don’t use it so much anymore,” says Barrett. “There a these new big shopping malls, and people have a whole new way of hanging out and shopping. Over the next few years the street will be re-developed into more of a central business district – a lot of that historic architecture will disappear.”

By: Dee Jefferson

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