05. 12. 2015

Crowdsourcing an Army of Trees #manifoldportrait

Today Jess and I (Alysha) came together in Rotary Park to ‘formally’ begin our Manifold Portrait residency as part of This Is A River.

I’ve been visiting the park since November last year once a month to take photos, talk to any residents who happened to be around, write notes and just ‘be’ in the space as part of, what I guess could best be described as research or pre-development. So there’s already a relationship starting to happen between me and the space and a small handful of people who live here, but today was the ‘official’ beginning of the project if you like.


The beginning of a project is a funny beast.

You have an idea. An ambition. A gut feeling that you’re chasing. Every artist is different in their process and approach (and the way ideas formulate) and for me with this particular project the process actually has many unknowns!


Some of the things I (think I) know:

  • Why I’m doing this project*
  • What I want the project to explore (thematically)
  • Some of the ways I anticipate the project will operate and what it will create
  • Possibilities of what the project may create
  • Who I’d like to be involved


Some of the things I do NOT know:

  • Exactly what the outcomes/end products will look like/be
  • Who will actually get involved *not freaking out, not freaking out*
  • How they’ll be involved
  • How their involvement will shift the things I think I know

There are other things I could add to both these lists but I’m sure you get the idea!


So, what does an artist in residence do for beginning of a community arts and cultural development project?


Some of the things Jess and I did today as artists in residence:

  • writing (words and music) in response to the park
  • eating food (local mandarins and beautiful bruschetta prepared by Jess)
  • cuddling a puppy called Cosmo and chatting to his human (Annie who lives on Manifold Crescent, directly across from the park)
  • making a sculpture hand out of sticks and string
  • brainstorming and interrogating ideas, opportunities and challenges in relation to the project
  • drawing things in the park
  • counting things in the park
  • playing the ukelele
  • Saying hello to two lads playing football with a blue footy (which inspired this tinytwitterpoem )
  • taking photos of one of the empty houses in the street
  • imagining our future here
  • developing invitations for you to join us!


That last dot point has given this post its name. Manifold Portrait is first and foremost a project for the residents of this community – Manifold Crescent and Derrick Street surrounding Rotary Park in Berri specifically – but we’d also like to invite the wider community to interact and contribute as more than just audience. So if you’re reading this, this is your invitation:


There are 37 trees in the park. We plan to include all 37 of those trees as storytellers for our sharing evening on Sunday 6th September. We’re inviting anyone at all who’d like to contribute to create arms (with hands) which we’ll use to personify our trees. You can make them out of any materials you like but we ask that you include at least one thing you’ve collected from Rotary Park itself. You can make one arm or many. Once you’ve made your arm/s drop me a text on 041 626 7391 and I will organise to collect them from wherever you are.


Here’s an example arm Jess whipped up today to give you an idea:


Apologies for the less than stellar photo. I am not a photographer. Maybe we’ll have one join us later.


So, help us crowdsource an army of trees….


That’s it, day one.


The beginning of a project is a funny beast.


It’s exciting and terrifying and ridiculous and addictive and wonderful.


More soon.



*I’ve written a little about the original impetus – the ‘why’ – for Manifold Portrait over on the MP blog (find it and follow along here). You can also see more photos from today there.



Alysha Herrmann


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