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Swamp Clubb

Swamp Clubb for TRANSART 2016, City of Perth

Swamp Clubb was a four part walking tour - a hybrid between immersive theatre and interdisciplinary talks from esteemed guests. Here is a snap shot of a few of the activities that took place within the tour, and how a typical Swamp Clubb would have run. 

The map from the front cover of poet Nandi Chinna's book 'Swamp', the inspiration for Swamp Clubb. Maps of the area are not publicly distributed. The Lake beneath our train station is never talked about, except by a tiny plaque on the Armadale platform acknowledging 'there was a wetland here'. A tiny plaque for a monumental food bowl for Nyoongar people teeming with life; with gilgis, jiddi jiddis, long-necked turtles, fish and hundreds of visiting birds. So Swamp Clubb was created to remember and honour these lakes, and we won't forget them, perhaps after the Anthropocene and de-colonisation, the lakes will come back with our help... 

The map from the front cover of poet Nandi Chinna's book 'Swamp', the inspiration for Swamp Clubb. Maps of the area are not publicly distributed. The Lake beneath our train station is never talked about, except by a tiny plaque on the Armadale platform acknowledging 'there was a wetland here'. A tiny plaque for a monumental food bowl for Nyoongar people teeming with life; with gilgis, jiddi jiddis, long-necked turtles, fish and hundreds of visiting birds. So Swamp Clubb was created to remember and honour these lakes, and we won't forget them, perhaps after the Anthropocene and de-colonisation, the lakes will come back with our help... 

We set up early, at 6am, when its dark and cold. The urban orchard is a resting place for people who are homeless. By 7am, they leave and workers start flooding in. We witness how the city changes.

We set up early, at 6am, when its dark and cold. The urban orchard is a resting place for people who are homeless. By 7am, they leave and workers start flooding in. We witness how the city changes.

We always start a Swamp Clubb with breakfast to entice people out so early! It's a great time to chat, eat, drink coffee and help welcome people so they feel comfortable with each other and know they are apart of something together. 

We always start a Swamp Clubb with breakfast to entice people out so early! It's a great time to chat, eat, drink coffee and help welcome people so they feel comfortable with each other and know they are apart of something together. 

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Nandi Chinna, our Swamp patron, reads to our blindfolded audience her poetry, speaking of blinking frogs, of the memory of water, of wetland remnants. It's an emotional time, standing in the ghost of the lake. 

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And the crowd are thoroughly pleased, who wouldn't be? 

We sit under a massive, introduced Moreton Bay fig tree to hear botanist, Hannah Etchells, speculate about what kinds of species may have been found here before the clearing. She explains how the name 'bio-diversity hot spot' is not as flash as it sounds. The biodiversity part it, but 'hot spot' means that over 70% of the original habitat has been lost. She laments at how many species would have lived here, that have not been documented.

We sit under a massive, introduced Moreton Bay fig tree to hear botanist, Hannah Etchells, speculate about what kinds of species may have been found here before the clearing. She explains how the name 'bio-diversity hot spot' is not as flash as it sounds. The biodiversity part it, but 'hot spot' means that over 70% of the original habitat has been lost. She laments at how many species would have lived here, that have not been documented.

And of course, the gorgeous Noel Nannup, our esteemed Nyoongar Elder speaking about the familial bonds one has with the creatures of this land when you have the totem system in place. To see a crow flying, you already know that crow, it is not a stranger, it is family. 

And of course, the gorgeous Noel Nannup, our esteemed Nyoongar Elder speaking about the familial bonds one has with the creatures of this land when you have the totem system in place. To see a crow flying, you already know that crow, it is not a stranger, it is family. 

Matt vandalises a city map and draws on the ghostly outline of the former 'Lake Kingsford'. The Perth Train Station was built over the drained lake. Most of the lakes were given the names of the people who drained them.

Matt vandalises a city map and draws on the ghostly outline of the former 'Lake Kingsford'. The Perth Train Station was built over the drained lake. Most of the lakes were given the names of the people who drained them.

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The audience descend into where the lake used to exist and walk down a eucalyptus scented stairwell, awash with recorded sounds of swamp life and live singers' voices intermingling. We wanted to obstruct the humdrum of walking down a stairwell such as this one - usually in a rush on the way to catch a train, usually smelling like urine too. These stairwells are interesting acoustic spaces and fill with reverb and echo. 

Down in the carpark next to the train station the sense of sight is taken away and each person is given paperbark to get to know. We walk them through a visualisation. You are standing in the ghost of the lake. Water would be brimming up to where your shoulders are. 

Down in the carpark next to the train station the sense of sight is taken away and each person is given paperbark to get to know. We walk them through a visualisation. You are standing in the ghost of the lake. Water would be brimming up to where your shoulders are. 

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After emerging from the car park, we find Andy sitting on his car between two ghost gums, with a stick of incense poking out from a mandarin. The car park is strewn with leaves and it starts to rain. He sings about being an astronaut and flying over the Swan River. It's lifts our spirits after remembering the lost lake. 

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A young sound maker helps us create a seascape of rushing leaves as the audience stand in a circle, closing their eyes. Sam plays the trombone in response.

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A salty, delicious samphire. 

And finally, the famous tea towels, live screen printed by the amazing Danni McGrath. 

And finally, the famous tea towels, live screen printed by the amazing Danni McGrath.