Every part of Australia is, always was and always will be, Aboriginal land. As a community gathering-place, a festival of arts, cultural exchange and celebration and as a site for the sharing of ideas and stories, Ten Days on the Island pays respect to the palawa – original owners and cultural custodians - of all the lands and waters across lutruwita/Tasmania upon which our Festival takes place.

Observations on wrapping Festival 2021

Remembering a festival is recreating a collage of seemingly unrelated moments – moments of connection, moments of revelation, of sheer beauty or raw potential, moments of eloquence, unexpected moments of insight or beauty.

While the collage of moments forms a very different picture this time, I wrote these thoughts after the 2019 Festival, and they ring true as I look back on the 2021 Festival experience too.

The final hall of our signature series If These Halls Could Talk was a perfect note upon which to finish. Belvedere Ballroom, a celebration of dance, life and art with the extraordinary women of MADE in Sorell’s Memorial Hall was a continuation of a distinct theme, as unexpected as it was welcome and timely, linking all three weekends.

One of the pleasures of this Festival was sharing the perspectives and creations of so many wonderful female artists who brought not only their artistic skills but also their exceptional power, energy and insight to audiences. Those of us lucky enough to see Lynette Wallworth’s magnificent works at the Rosny Barn and to hear her exceptional Burnie keynote, loved the subversion of her question: ‘what if imagination could change the world?’.

In this Festival my imagination has been fired by some deeply philosophical collaborations between artists like the harpist Emily Zanzaro and dancer Jenny Large in the Rowella Hall in Tasdance’s Where Do We Start? And by the delicious anarchy and gold-sparkliness of MAPATAZI, the 22-stong femme guitar band, after whose beautifully bonkers intervention the Launceston Workers Club will never be the same. Even the seven sisters of The Marvellous Corricks, so seemingly well-behaved in their pretty white dresses, yet fearless and intrepid as they drove across the Australian landscape in their Model T Fords, captured my imagination as Edwardian-era heroines.

And in the final weekend, how thrilling to experience the extraordinary, quietly emotional power of Essie Krukemeyer and Kim Jaeger’s immersive work Good Silence spanning multiple rooms within Willow Court and Sinsa Mansell’s collaboration with Kate Champion on Back, her tribute to the powerful, heroic palawa women of Sinsa’s family’s past and those to come.

After every Festival, people invariably ask me what my favourite things were, but that’s just impossible to answer as I return to so many meaningful experiences from these three weekends:

Once more, sharing mapali – Dawn Gathering with the community was a beautiful and powerful start to the first weekend. Who could forget those glorious young dancers transformed into kangaroos and cockatoos on the pataway/Burnie foreshore and the armoury of Taiko drums? More cockatoos in Shorewell Park’s Gallery of Hopes and Dreams brought us another joyful expression of the North West community spirit.

I absolutely adored the anarchic poetry of Leonard’s Beautiful Pictures, the alchemy of Dean Stevenson’s genius mix of music, charm and foley with century-old vaudeville films in Zeehan’s Gaiety Theatre and it was a pleasure and a privilege to step back in time with The Marvellous Corricks in Launceston.

At the Odeon in Hobart, our founding Artistic Director Robyn Archer’s brilliant Mother Archer’s Cabaret for Dark Times was both a fabulous performance and a masterclass in disciplined artistry over a long career. It was an honour and a joy to have Robyn, Michael and George performing this new collection for the first time as part of Ten Days on the Island’s 20th anniversary.

The feeling of profound relief and letting go that washes over a festival team when it wraps up its last event is always palpable. Getting through a festival successfully and safely is always a massive group achievement, but this year with COVID-safety front of mind and adding complexity to the experience of every event, Ten Days on the Island 2021 has been even more of a logistical puzzle than usual. So hats off to Jessie Brough, Ten Days on the Island’s COVID-19 Safety and volunteer ace. But there are so many colleagues to thank. In 2021 we had a crack Ten Days’ team – amazing individuals who have each made a huge contribution to this special Festival edition.

Finally, this year was a celebration of Tasmanian artistry and ingenuity. To all those local artists who shared their work and their deep insights into this place, congratulations and thank you. And to all the communities who hosted Ten Days on the Island events, our team loved working with you, thank you for your welcome and support.

Here’s another couple of phrases I wrote two years ago which resonate even more deeply in March 2021:

With the experiences and valuable learnings of this year’s Festival now under our belts, in the coming days, weeks and months we will regroup, debrief and reposition ourselves toward the next Festival. But not yet. For now we’ll allow ourselves the pleasure of remembering the special moments shared with our communities, moments made possible through the extraordinary power of art.

Stay tuned – we have more to share, so watch this space throughout 2021!

– Lindy Hume, Artistic Director

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