The Sonic Outcrops pilot took place on the unceded lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung, in January 2021. It is comprised of a series of singular performances responding to the sonic and cultural qualities of unique sites on Djaara Country.
If an outcrop is a rock formation that emerges from the ground, then Sonic Outcrops are sound formations emerging from sites.
Like ancient geology, sonic outcrops reveal clusters and flows of sonic stories from a series of sites that inform place.
Through listening, it is possible to have a sense of the layers and dynamics from which a site and region reveals itself in unexpected ways and different perspectives. We get to feel the different layers of place. Tones, harmonies, and dissonances vibrate while these processes take place, and these can be registered through listening to sites and all they evoke.
In its textures, our Sonic Outcrop Pilot inevitably invited us to experience our regional locations as spaces in which to question history and landscape, our sense of living in a specific place, or the relationship that we have with it.
After being walled-in for months, we emerge and gather on an old mountain; a small group, hanging between earth and sky, looking east from Leanganook.
As the early morning heat hums and crackles, a thin plume of eucalypt smoke spirals and quivers against the shimmering horizon. Uncle Rick Nelson extends a welcome to his country. Then, slowly, a steady thrumming rises from below: an ancient song, an eternal tone. A story is ready to be retold. Uncle Rick gives the story voice and the sun rises on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
Uncle Rick Nelson is a local elder of the Dja Dja Wurrung. He has worked in cultural heritage, protection and preservation for over 20 years. Before that he worked as a sound engineer for 6 years in and around Melbourne working with people like Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Kutcha Edwards and Shane Howard and involved with men’s and boys groups,volunteers and many community groups. He continues to work in cultural heritage education, teaching the wider community about local indigenous history and in the future would like to develop more local aboriginal led tourism and cultural activity.
Justin Marshall is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and sound producer who has worked extensively in contemporary sound art, popular, folk and world music. He has worked in theatre, screen and festivals with diverse audiences and participants. He co-created Sonic Labyrinth with Aviva Endean which was presented at the 2019 Castlemaine State Festival and 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival and was nominated for a Green Room Award (2020). Recent works include Stay Connected and Covid Rap with Declan Fuber-Gillick, Uncle Rick Nelson and Nalderun, Wayfinders with Jess Wilson, Soundcapsule with Aviva Endean and The Kultur-All Makaan with Punctum. He also runs Ghost Recording Studio in Castlemaine.
Declan Furber Gillick is an award-winning independent Arrernte playwright, theatre-maker, artist, rapper, musician, broadcaster and community educator with a passion for mentoring young artists and writers. As part of Sonic Outcrops, Declan has worked collaboratively in a holistic process led by Uncle Rick and alongside Justin Marshall to develop and present a work of story, sound and song that speaks from and of Dja Dja Wurrung cultural history and takes place on a specific and distinct Dja Dja Wurrrung site. Declan’s plays include Bighouse Dreaming, Scar Trees, Jacky and The Great Emu War. He has been a
writer-in-residence with Melbourne Theatre Company from 2018 and will continue work with them into 2021. He has also worked as a mentor, facilitator and director as part of their First Peoples’ Young Artist Program. Declan has had prose and poetry published with Southerly, Kill YourDarlings, Magabala Books, Red Room Poetry, University of Queensland Press and Affirm Press. He currently lives, works and organises grassroots community arts and music projects on Dja Dja Wurrung Country (Central Victoria) under the eldership and guidance of Uncle Rick Nelson, Aunty Julie McHale and Kath Coff.
Planted by the Lands Department with a view to commercially producing acorns for the tanning industry, the Oak Forest failed to satisfy the capitalist aims of its creators, but has come to be appreciated simply for what it is: a beautiful copse of trees. For a young musician growing up in Harcourt, the Oak Forest was a place for idyllic picnics and childhood birthday parties, frolicking amongst the undergrowth. As phloem and xylem within the oaks ran with nutrients, the peaceful cool under the canopy fed our imaginations with seemingly endless days of delight.
This performance explores themes of transplantation and belonging. As the Oak Forest itself comprises foreign trees that have stood here for over a century creating their own history in this place, this piece is realised by a white musician who grew up in Harcourt, learning to play Western classical music on Dja Dja Wurrung land, on a viola made in Spring Gully out of European wood.
Lizzy Welsh is internationally renowned as a music-maker and performer of early music, new music and experimental improvisation, principally on the baroque violin and modern violin. As a baroque violinist, Lizzy’s “characterful virtuosity” has cemented her as one of Australia’s leading early music performers, who has appeared with Orchestra of the Antipodes, Freitags-Akademien (Berlin, Germany), Latitude 37, Van Diemen’s Band, The Night Watch (Wellington, NZ), the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra, Accademia Arcadia, La Compañia, Ludovico’s Band, Consort Eclectus and Harken Well. Lizzy has been invited to perform at the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music, the Adelaide Festival, the Melbourne International Arts Festival, the Melbourne Jazz Festival, the University of California San Diego’s Springfest, Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, London Jazz Festival, Jazztopad Wrocław, Sacrum Profanum Festival (Krakow), Jazzfest Berlin, Sacred Realism (Berlin), Shanghai International Arts Festival, Shanghai New Music Week, Metropolis New Music Festival, and Wangaratta Jazz Festival. Lizzy has presented scores of Australian and World premieres with ensembles including the Argonaut Ensemble, Golden Fur New Music Project, ELISION Ensemble, Chamber Made, and the Australian Art Orchestra. Lizzy is Artistic Director of Australia’s leading new music string quartet, the Argonaut Quartet. An advocate for creating new music for early instruments, Lizzy has a Doctor of Musical Arts in this field, and has developed one of the world’s largest repertoires of new music for the baroque violin and viola d’amore, premiering many of these works at leading international festivals including the Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany) and Sacrum Profanum Festival (Poland). Lizzy acknowledges, with the deepest respect, the Dja Dja Wurrung people, on whose stolen lands she has the privilege to live and create music.
We gather in a missing place. Where, earth and stone has been removed and land is forever changed. Immediately impressive are the sheer rock walls that envelop us on either side. We notice the new acoustic created by what has gone. While listening to what’s here, we might begin to imagine what sounds are now missing.
For a brief moment in the endless time of this place, I play within the pulse of crickets, and the dense outbursts of the Chough’s falling call. Each sound I offer is a question, and a hopeful attempt to learn how to be with what is already here.
Aviva Endean is an artist dedicated to fostering a deep engagement with sound and music, with the hope that attentive listening can connect people with each other and their environment. She works as a composer, clarinettist, improviser, and performance-maker, and creates unusual, spatially engaged, and participatory contexts for listening. Her debut solo album was released in 2018 to critical acclaim, with reviews speaking to Aviva’s innovation and virtuosity, and describing the work as ‘captivating, ‘sophisticated’, ‘miraculous’ & ‘trance-inducing’. She has been awarded the Freedman Fellowship, The APRA/AMCOS Art Music Fund, a Greenroom Award, was finalist for the Melbourne Prize 2019 and is in residence at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks composer’s house in 2021.
Artistic Director / Curator: Jude Anderson
Producer: Renee Dudfield
Production Associate: Anna Schwann
General Manager: Steve Mayhew
Documentation: Miles Bennett (video) & Di Domonkos (photography)