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Salt Water City - a collaborative approach to developing work

9 Nov 2019

Salt Water City – a collaborative approach to developing work

Salt Water City, an initial development for a dance/song/video work inspired by parallels between the Gold Coast and Venice, is one of the 12 projects that are receiving funding and support from our Creative Development Program (CDP).

A creative collaboration between singer Pearly Black, contemporary dancer Riannon McLean, composer Amelia Bardon and filmmaker Megan Donovan, the work will be a truly collaborative multi-disciplinary project.

Pearly’s last creative development was Watersong at the Bleach Festival in April, and her love for the water, land and Place inspired the initial ideas behind Saltwater City.

‘The Passion by Jeanette Winterson has been a favourite novel of mine for a long time and I’ve always nursed the idea that there must be a song cycle in this. When thinking about what I could I do for the CDP this popped into my head – maybe as it’s so much to do with Venice and waterways and the fact that the principle character is literally OF the water. How much we use of the book I’m not sure, but it’s a jumping off point. We’re not making a song cycle but as an inspiration flashpoint it’s been seminal,’ she said.

Pearly and Riannon forged an instant connection while working together on ‘Where the Heart Is’ which was a pivotal moment for them both artistically. And when they discovered they were now both based on the Gold Coast they leapt at the opportunity to work together again.

While they both had some initial thoughts, they’ve come to the studio with no fixed ideas of the outcome – just that they will use music, dance and film to explore their narrative.  So far, they’ve enjoyed the time and space to play with some ideas.

Riannon said: ‘Initially we’ve been working on really trying to pinpoint the ideas, what it is we really want to convey; what sort of narrative do we want, who are the characters, what other elements do we want to bring, how do we go about telling the story.’

‘Once we’ve nailed the main narrative points we’ll start working backwards. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,’ Pearly added.

Pearly is interested in using Vivaldi and Monteverdi, their strong connection to Venice the birthplace of Opera, as an aesthetic jumping off point. However, they’re excited to see where the collaboration will take them.

The CDP has provided Pearly and Riannon uninterrupted time to collaborate and experiment in a purpose built space which they have found invaluable. They’ve also found a lot of freedom in the fact that there is no expectation of an outcome from this work at this stage.

While they have big plans for the work, they both for see the need for further development to really fulfil their ambitions.

“The ideas we have really need time to be massaged and nurtured. They need some breathing room,’ said Riannon

‘And the work itself may change when the other collaborators join the process. Form and story are often dictated by the artistic discipline and by collaborating with other artists,’ she continued

Pearly is keeping a blog on the development of this work which can be found here.

This project has been supported by HOTA Home of Arts and City of Gold Coast through HOTA’s Creative Development Program.