Volume 1:4

Danny Spooner: Dark Old Waters

The thick basalt walls of the former Congregational Church proved both blessing and curse during the recording of Dark Old Waters for Volume 1:4. While the walls blocked out most of the racket emanating from the heavy construction going on mere feet from the church’€™s western flanks, the bluestone blocks and concrete-rendered interior also served to add unwelcome levels of echo to Danny Spooner’€™s voice while bouncing the concertina’€™s bellowed notes in all directions across the empty space. But drawing on a lifetime’€™s experience playing in venues of all shapes and sizes Danny soon found a sweet spot, and you can download the results here.

Arcadia: Sound of the sea


In the next issue of Great Ocean Quarterly we are privileged to have access to works from an important exhibition being held at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

Arcadia: Sound of the sea brings together 40 photographs by John Witzig, co-founder of Tracks magazine and founder of SeaNotes; juxtaposed with seven large ink drawings by Sydney based artist Nicholas Harding, and film footage from Albert Falzon’€™s Morning of the Earth.

In the first issue of Tracks Nat Young wrote ‘€˜By simply surfing we are supporting the revolution’€™. Reflecting the perspective of John Witzig’€™s publications and their treatment of Australian politics; religion; environmental conservation; and alternatives to conformist ways of living, the statement underpins the visualised conception of freedom and potential reflected in the exhibition’€™s carefree images of young surfers.


National Portrait Gallery Historian and exhibition Curator Dr Sarah Engledow offers that Arcadia ‘€˜…is about how it feels to be lean, male, strong, untrammelled and irresponsible: to be a slacker with immense discretionary energy. Almost all the people represented are handsome youths. Indeed, the exhibition is a tribute to the physical bravery, beauty and ebullience of many young men ‘€“ which is unusual in a show that isn’€™t about war (although it’€™s true that conscription shadowed many of the individuals pictured, and many whole bodies like theirs ended up punctured and ripped up in Vietnam). Through photographs, film and text, their free-spirited, passive-revolutionary character shines. The ocean may not appear in all of the images; in fact, it’€™s absent from at least half of them, as well as from most of the film footage: but you can hear it, as it were. Arcadia itself, vague place of myth, wasn’€™t by the beach. But the exhibition as a whole ‘€“ comprising pictures of people, pictures of houses, pictures of banksias, heath and driftwood, pictures of campgrounds ‘€“ is underpinned by a Romantic conception of the awesome and spiritually restorative force of the sea’€.

Dr Engledow goes on to say: “The works in Arcadia have been brought together not so much to evoke ideas, as to trigger a sensual response: to salt and fresh water, wet and dry sand, dune vegetation, undergrowth, tent canvas, floors of vans and shacks, weatherboards, hand-knitted jumpers, thin old t-shirts, corduroy, spongy neoprene, stiff hair, dog fur, noses and claws, banksia pods, firewood, seaweed and rocks. If you can feel any of those textures, if you can smell or taste any of those odours ‘€“ and if, senses sharpened, you can feel a seed of independence germinating within you ‘€“ Arcadia lives in you.’€

Witzig’€™s photographs will be newly-printed to unprecedented size. Five sections from Falzon’€™s 1972 film channel dreams of an untrammelled lifestyle. Harding’€™s intricate drawings are a natural fit with the texture of the photographs and share their vigorous, yet gentle, sensibility. Together the photographs, film and drawings evoke textures and odours: salt and fresh water, wet and dry sand, dune vegetation, undergrowth, tent canvas, floors of vans and shacks, hand-knitted jumpers, corduroy, spongy neoprene, stiff hair, dog fur, firewood, seaweed and rocks.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue comprising reproductions of photographs and drawings from the exhibition, new short pieces and excerpts from Tracks of 1970-1972 and SeaNotes of 1977-1978.

Arcadia: Sound of the sea will be displayed at the Gallery from 14 August to 19 October 2014 and will subsequently tour to Geelong Regional Art Gallery, Victoria and Tweed Regional Art Gallery in NSW.