Friday, February 3, 2012


A cartwheel on the beach, yellow flowers, car engines under bonnets, teapots and teacups are the focus of Huon Valley’s young people in the photography project ‘Cygnet’s Art Trail – snap shots of life in 3D’.
For the month of January 2012, you could borrow 3D glasses and an Art Trail map from Balfour House or Re-Find, and cruise the main street, where 3D images placed in shop windows would jump out at you: swans on green pasture, an attractive woman with flamboyant beehive hair-do, an artichoke.

I propped my cardboard glasses over my ears, looking through one blue lense, the other red, and walked the long main drag of Cygnet. At most shops the artwork was displayed in the outward facing window to be viewed from the pavement any time of day or night. Adding to the experience, at Derek Glanville’s Small Engines shop I perched behind a ride-on-lawn-mower to see Lewis’s photo of a tugboat floating in shimmering water and Freya’s picture of flowers and leaf in shade. Similarly at Mitre 10 I looked through a rack of door mats and a potted lemon tree to see Nina’s image of a freckle-faced boy wearing mirror sunglasses and her silhouetted reflection standing in the kitchen. At the butcher, R&D Meats, there were fluorescent capitols “PORTERHOUSE 18.99 KILO” painted over the glass covering Cooper’s image of what looked like a pile of discarded plastic lense caps, which I’m told is actually War Hammer paraphernalia, a young boys war game.
As I looked at a beautiful image of a stack of retro floral teacups by Nina in the window of Home & Body, I saw the reflection of local Cygnet identity, Dr Dennis Dubetz, walking along the other side of the street. The long and dispersed ‘exhibition space’ layered the daily doings of the main street, with the 3D-embellished images, making it an animated and interactive experience.
Textile Designer and Manager of Balfour House (an Artist Run Initiative) Claire Byers, said she’d always wanted to do a 3D photography youth project in Cygnet. Sitting on the verandah with Artist and Arts Administrator Kitty Taylor one day, she mentioned her idea, and Taylor didn’t hesitate in saying they could do that. Shortly after they secured funding from the Huon Valley Health Services Committee and Tasmanian Regional Arts, and sixteen young people were participating in photography workshops with Taylor.
Many of the participants had done little or no photography before, and some didn’t even have a camera or access to one. One of the supporting organisations, St James School, actually bought cameras so students could participate. For Kitty Taylor, working with participant William, was a standout. He had four works in the exhibition, with his photo of rust being particularly striking. As a result of his work, Taylor has invited him to participate in another project in the north of Tasmania.
For a community project such as this, the young people learn about photography, see their work manipulated into 3D images and exhibited in the main street. Surely they’d feel some satisfaction, possibly some teenage squeamishness, but as the headline on the poster states “FIND A WAY, NOT AN EXCUSE”.
So how many people actually did the trail? Byers said most of the 600 glasses vanished around the time of the Cygnet Folk Festival in early January, and – more surprisingly – some shop cleaners thought the artwork was part of the festival’s plethora of posters and threw them into the rubbish! Perhaps it says something about the quality of the images when viewed without the glasses? The works, however, were swiftly replaced, and by the time I’d walked the trail, criss-crossing the street a few times, putting my 3D glasses on and off, I felt a bit goggle-eyed.
The Art Trail gave me an hour or so to ponder images of the Huon Valley, by Huon Valley’s young people for the Huon Valley. I wonder what images would be collected by the same age group in similar sized towns in other countries around the world?
The photographs will be exhibited for the rest of the year: for February they’ll be hung in the Youth Zone at Huon Linc in Huonville; in March you can see them at the Huonville Library; and later in the year they’ll tour Health Centres around Tasmania.

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