Hypnotic Happenings at the West Writers Our Stories Forum

FCAC_WestWriterForum_RachelMain_2014_CrowdThe West Writers Our Stories Forum, held in the Footscray Community Arts Centre, was a day filled with the products of others’ creativity. There were displays, workshops and open discussions held for people to attend. I was there because 100 Story Building’s Level 87 Book Club was invited by The West Writers Group and Footscray Community Arts Centre to join in the writers forum: to experience the day, to interview people there and to write up a blog post on what we saw and felt. (Objective realised!)

I was given a colourful program detailing all the performances and events, so I did what any first-time writers festival goer does: I wandered around searching for something interesting.

What I found was a sound and light display with the most comfortable chairs ever. Bright flickering shapes were projected onto the wall in neon greens, yellows and pinks. The effect was utterly hypnotic: the movement of the shapes and pace of the audio was rhythmic. However, I found the display full of contradiction and thus rather odd. The story described a man’s struggle with terminal illness and eventual decision to commit suicide while onscreen multi-coloured triangles twisted into and away from each other to form moving fractals. The projections seemed to bear no relation to the matter of the story as the abstract colour of the projections were at odds with the sombre heavy matter of the tale. I could only focus on one element at a time: hear the story and lose the image or watch the shapes and lose the tale. It was a multi-sensory experience, but one where the senses were played against each other so that only one could be engaged at a time.

After that odd room, I found myself on a story walk around Footscray. The story walk was hosted by local artist Sylvie and was titled simply ‘author walk’. Even though it was essentially a tour around places in Footscray that I know well, it was still interesting. It was a chance to see Footscray though the eyes of another – an author not a student. So instead of seeing all of the good places to eat in Footscray, we saw an old theatre boarded up to form apartments, graffiti art and an interfaith garden complete with statues of Buddha, Hindu gods and five identical statues of Mary, each in a different coloured robe. We went into the Ercildoune, a heritage building whose original purpose I still don’t know. The building was old and wooden with a narrow staircase and strangely modern artwork. We went upstairs into an art studio and looked out the window to view some very fine examples of botanical art. I also found out that the Footscray overpass actually has a name and that it is officially called the William Cooper Bridge after an Aboriginal leader and activist who lived in Footscray in the 1930s.

I did other things that that day: I put my Monopoly skills to the test while selling copies of Early Harvest at 100 Story Building and I participated in a discussion about radio, journalism and ethics. Of course, I use the term ‘participate’ quite loosely as the entirety of my experience with radio involves suffering though the talk back in my father’s car. Instead, I listened to others debate the use of radio as a platform for minority groups, as well as the ethics, responsibilities and choices inherent in journalism. I found the discussion fascinating and it gave me a greater appreciation for radio as a whole as well as introducing me to the idea of community radio, which, to be perfectly honest, I had never heard of before.

The whole day passed as a blur of activity, sound, colour and interesting people. I got to meet a great number of people with different professions, interests and perspectives on life. Hearing from them and seeing the work they produced was an encouragement for me to change my own thinking and opinions. Of course, the people who left the greatest impression on me were Omar Musa and Christos Tsiolkas, two authors who I was able to interview. These interviews will be posted soon.

Elena Demosthenous is a seventeen-year-old student who likes reading, hanging out at 100 Story Building and speaking about herself in the third person.

 

Image by Rachel Main 2014, courtesy of Footscray Community Arts Centre. Level 87 Book Club attended the West Writers Our Stories Forum as a guest of Footscray Community Arts Centre.