This is a Border (Town)

18. 11. 2016

Nikki Carson – Memoirs

Though not born in this Bordertown, I moved here with my family when I was nine years old. My father’s home town, my extended family have a long history in the area. I began playing the piano at a very young age, thanks to my father, who would sit and play and sing nursery rhymes with me from the moment I could crawl to the piano to harass him. I had a passion for music and in particular for the piano for as long as I can remember.

Growing up in Bordertown as an artist and musician is a very lonely sentence; to be a romantic amongst a small community that fears non conformity soon either makes you an outcast, or you submit. Unable to fit, try as I might, I spent a lot of time alone with my piano and my thoughts. Rachmaninoff was my friend – able to express the inexpressible that spoke to me and wordlessly, formlessly, capture the pain and anguish in my soul. I played and wrote music through high school, often composing for strings as I found the most soul piercing harmonies could be made with these instruments. My piano compositions were usually impulsive expressions of something I couldn’t otherwise articulate, which is the beauty of the arts.

“Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts, and especially in the art of words. If music has one advantage over the other media through which a person can represent the impressions of the soul, it owes this to its supreme capacity to make each inner impulse audible without the assistance of reason. Music presents at once the intensity and the expression of feeling. It is the embodied and intelligible essence of feeling, capable of being apprehended by our senses. It permeates them like a dart, like a ray, like a mist, like a spirit, and fills our soul.”
Franz Joseph Liszt

It has been a little over ten years since I composed anything. When asked to contribute to this project I stayed shut off and offered a flippant piece for strings, (again), trained through many years of adversity not to allow the vulnerability of sharing my affair with piano music, as it had caused me much grief in the past. In fact, my relationship with music in general had become bitter and strained, as I found being an eccentric artist a sentence of exile. These borders were shot to pieces when Naomi challenged me to write for piano, as I was chosen for that purpose. Utterly terrified, I trusted the only other artist I knew and sat at my piano. Being put on the spot, my head whirled into expressing a lot of pent up grief related to many life changing hardships over the past ten years. With this forgotten channel of expression, I began to play. Terrifyingly weird, exciting and made vulnerable again. A few days later, I had the bones of my Memoirs written down in a minor.

Nikki Carson


Matthew Bennett


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Artist Residency


James Dodd, Mark de Nys, Malcolm McKinnon



About the Artist

Malcolm McKinnon

Malcolm McKinnon is an Australian artist and filmmaker working mainly in rural communities. Over the past 25 years, his work has encompassed oral history, urban planning, public and community art projects, critical writing and exhibitions. His current practice is mainly focused around documentary filmmaking and social history, motivated by an appreciation of living memory and local vernacular.

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About the Artist

James Dodd

James Dodd is an artist who has a strong interest in public space and often works on mural scale and community oriented outcomes. He has a multi-faceted visual arts practice that embraces a range of painting and sculptural approaches. He exhibits regularly across Australia and has had his work collected by major institutions, including the National Gallery of Australia. Dodd is an educator at Adelaide Central School of Art and is represented by Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide.

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About the Artist

Mark de Nys

Mark de Nys is a Limestone Coast based Visual Artist ,Educator and Musician,with a background in Engineering and Design, he has worked on large scale public artwork throughout Australia, taking energy from things never before made, re-inventing and re imagining always questioning, Why? This is a Border(town) offers the rare chance to engage with local Blokes via the Men's Shed along with industry and council members, the outcome is organic and fluid embracing Men's mental health, there may be Windmills! Hope to see you on the Journey.

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.