Published: 11 September 2023

Legislative Council, Tuesday 5 September 2023

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, layers of history and time come together to form a shared story. Each of our actions and our intentions contribute to this. The more we learn about the places we occupy, the more we remember that we have always known it but had forgotten or else our knowledge has been disconnected. We are here now, we can learn from this place again and leave parts of us behind to fill the empty spaces left by what has been lost. Know where you are, remember what came before. Notice the ground and the skies and the water, pay attention to the stories and find your place here.

Mr President, what I am reading from is the festival program that members have got a copy of. It is more of an invitation than a program. It asks you to engage with a diverse and finely honed range of artistic activity across four days in October on the beautiful west coast. On a deeper level, you also hold a message communicated, not through words but through images and through cultural expression and intent.

What is the role of the festival in 2023? Unconformity - and full disclosure, I am a very proud member of the board - following the cancellation of our 2021 festival, is returning with strength, bringing people together. Providing social engagement and economic impact has been the objective this year. However, we should acknowledge that this is also a time that is very strange for us all really. Change abounds. We see major instability in people and in places all around the world. Systems are disturbed, accepted institutions are challenged and our environment and way of life is disrupted.

These are some of the words that our artistic director, Travis Tiddy, read at the official launch in Queenstown and I will continue. This concept of discontinuity is something at the forefront of the artistic team's minds - how could it not be? - as they assembled this year's festival program as it is a concept the west coast knows only too well.

This place feels both in and out of time: cycles of boom and bust, the notion of insiders and outsiders, the amazing quality of connectedness, but also remoteness. Things that exist in parallel that do not quite make sense are here, but here they are, woven into the west coast fabric. The west coast has a story to tell about what it means to live and love in a place of discontinuity and to learn from it. In this age of change that is a message that relates to all people in all places.

As you turn the page of the festival program, you will notice a string of artistic and cultural experiences threaded together that create meaning. From the voices of Queenstown, the Queenie choir, emanating from deep in the Mt Lyell mine captured on film, to the recomposed sounding of the Mt Lyell mine shift change siren by a composer born and raised in this town, the son of Queenstown, you might say. The forging of chains, as a contemporary jeweller who calls this place home creates a new necklace inspired by the charm necklace given or gifted to Queenstown's Marion Sticht 128 years ago, through doing so creating links between old and new Queenstown.

To the presence of an illuminated moon brought down for the celestial heavens and placed in the former limestone quarry in the valley below our own regenerating moonscape.

And most central of all, 30 venues and over 60 west coast artists in the Unconformity art trail, the beating heart of the creative and cultural change occurring in this part of the world.

Mr President, I urge members to look at the program and read through it. You will need to book early both accommodation and for events. Some of the events have very limited ticketing and will be done by ballot. You need to enter the ballot and may or may not get a ticket.

I would like to acknowledge the work of Lea Walpole, who has again designed this beautiful program. She is a true west coast treasure, born and bred on the west coast.

This image, or identity if you like, you hold in your hands, has high meaning for all people engaged with The Unconformity. West coast people particularly recognise it for what it is. It is a specific association with our landscape and its connection to change. This image suggests togetherness of many working parts that make a whole pulling in certain directions. It pulls west if you look closely. It is delicate, but enduring. It suggests there are things to negotiate, like ridges and curves, valleys and peaks, but it has a galvanising quality and speaks of place and we would not have it any other way. I would like to read another couple of comments from the program:

The Unconformity's last story was left unread. Unopened; disrupted by a force none of us could avoid. Our great ally - remoteness - could not even shield us. Modern life wouldn't have it.

It means we have so much more to share, more time to create, more time to challenge, more time to inspire.

Like a full moon sharing pent-up radiance after its unscheduled eclipse, we are back with a new conglomeration of concepts, experiences and questions shaped by this wild place.

Our story, and the West Coast story, continues.

Those who know us will tell us it won't go to script…and that's just the way we like it.

In this place, nothing stays the same.

I welcome you all to Queenstown on the west coast.


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