Published: 11 April 2019


Mr President, in Tasmania we have just enjoyed Ten Days on the Island.  This year's event was held over three weekends, with four days in the north-west, three in the north and three in the south, with some installations extended across that period.

I acknowledge the fantastic work of CEO Jane Haley, Creative Producer Vernon Guest, and Artistic Director Lindy Hume, who were supported by the board under chair Saul Eslake.

In five minutes I cannot possibly do justice to the amazing program so I will mention a few events from each region.  I hope all members took the opportunity to attend some of the events of Ten Days.  The events were structured to maximise on other events in the state and international events, including International Women's Day.

In the north-west, International Women's Day included a tribute to north-west women with a multidimensional artwork created by, and about, several generations of inspirational north-west women titled Here She Is.  Women of the Island was shown in all regions, including a number of more remote locations such as Zeehan, Stanley and Exeter as well as Hobart and Launceston.  These truly moving stories of inspirational young women and not-so-young women from across the state were wonderful.  If you did not see them, I encourage you to view them on the Women of the Island website or on social media.  A number of these women are my constituents, women I know and deeply admire.

I have spoken before of the event BIGhART's Acoustic Life of Sheds, which was again a promenade concert spanning 60 kilometres over four-and-a-half hours exploring five sheds in and around Wynyard.  This event received fantastic accolades.

In Pursuit of Venus was an incredible visual arts centrepiece of Ten Days.  The epic creation of Maori artist, Lisa Reihana, is a 17-metre, hour-long video work that juxtaposes idyllic island landscapes with imagined first encounters with Captain Cook and his colonising officers, sailors and traders and the indigenous people of the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia.  It was a thought-provoking diorama which was over 10 years in the making and is sought after by galleries around the world.

Out of Chaos was the world premiere of Australia's physical theatre company Gravity and other Myths.  It was a breath-holding event for audiences as we witnessed the incredible strength, teamwork and trust of these acrobats.

In the north, The Enchanted Island was held at the Clover Hill vineyard, a magnificent concert of baroque opera featuring soprano Sara Macliver, mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley and bass-baritone Christopher Richardson.  They were accompanied by Tasmania's own period instrument ensemble, the Van Diemen's Band, conducted by Ben Bayl with staging by Lindy Hume.  It was a truly wonderful performance.

There were also events for the family and children, which we attended with some children borrowed from friends.  Baba Yaga, starring Australia's own Christine Johnston, was a wonderful retelling of the classic Russian fairytale with lots of laughs and many good messages for the young and not-so-young alike.

The Children's Party was another powerful family event that was very pertinent following the recent strike action by many young people seeking to focus policymakers' attention on issues that matter to them, particularly climate change, equality and civil society.  It certainly reminded me that we must listen to the voices of young people in our decision-making in this place. 

In the south, there were so many events it was impossible to get to them all and some sold out very quickly.  I will mention some I did get to.

Dancenorth's production Dust was another world premiere of a mesmerising study of human potential, expressed through contemporary dance and accompanied by violin in a truly moving production.  That was at Glenorchy.

Eyes as Big as Plates was a wonderful photographic exhibition of everyday elderly people transformed into timeless mythical beings, including some Tasmanian people.  This was created by Scandinavian sorcerers fusing folklore and photography as they question our ageing and its relationship to nature.

Breathtaking was a breathtaking performance of two baroque virtuosi.  Once again, our own Van Diemen's Band was joined by world-renowned vocalists taking us back to a bygone era of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century baroque and the royal courts of the Renaissance.  If you shut your eyes, you could really believe you were there.

The Mares was a world premiere performance by the Tasmanian Theatre Company.  I do not know whether any members saw it, but it was truly challenging for performers and audience alike.  It was an amazing play; a very powerful performance that explored the themes of power, including physical, psychological and sexual, as it moved through time from Greek mythology to the current time.

I will close on the performance of Compassion - what a moving, incredible and timely performance.  As noted in the program, in a world of conflict and division, this profound performance by Nigel Westlake and Lior drew on ancient wisdom to offer a timely message of life and hope.  Sung in Hebrew and Arabic, Compassion fused the achingly beautiful voice of Lior and the transcendent mastery of the world-winning composer Nigel Westlake with the sublime power of our own Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.  It was the most incredible performance to lose myself in and let the music and messages just wash over me.  It rightly received a standing ovation.

I have the program if anyone would like to read it.  It is really worth reading the story of the work.  I will close with some of the words of Nigel Westlake from the program -

It is my hope that this music might offer its listeners the space and opportunity to reflect upon the qualities of that most noble of human sentiments, the good stuff that enriches our lives with meaning, insight, depth and intrinsic worth.  The virtue of compassion.

The lines in the encore song were 'Compassion is the measure of man.'  It was a wonderful Ten Days and I look forward to the next one in two years time.

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