Locative Literature & Micro Galleries

I’ve recently become involved in an exciting community engagement project called Micro Galleries.

Micro Galleries reclaims disused and forgotten spaces and reactivates them as tiny galleries that are free and accessible to the local community. Bringing together international and local artists, it features work that challenges ingrained ideas, blurs the line between street art and fine art, and aims to help change the way we see the world, our environment and our community – even for a micro moment.” (http://microgalleries.org/ )

Micro  Galleries are all about taking art out of galleries and into the streets where the community can engage with it directly. It’s about revitalising neglected spaces and inviting people to think about the social, historic and environmental aspects of the space they are standing in, as they are standing in it.

In a world where everyone seems to be preoccupied with their smart phones and rushing to be somewhere else, has there ever been a greater need?

Micro Galleries currently exist in Denpasar ,Bali and in Cape Town, South Africa. In May, over 40 international artists original work will be installed in the regional town of Nowra NSW, across multiple disused locations within the central business district, as a community art project funded by Regional Arts NSW. The locations are small, neglected streets and alleys.

This year, for the first time, literature will be included. Specifically, very short form literature (less than about 400 words roughly). My friend and fellow writer Graeme Gibson has been busily leading a collaboration between local writers and artists who have been creating new work for the exhibition for several months. All art work will respond to a certain theme which varies from location to location.  He has been running workshops for local writers to prepare us for the project. Most of the writing will be in response to the artwork and almost immediate in nature, in the form of Ekphrasis. Ekphrasis is the interpretation of visual art in the form of poetry or prose.

But it’s locative literature that floats my boat. I’ve always been interested in writing about ‘place’ and how different writers approach that. Locative literature is best described as ‘stories being experienced in the places where they are set’. Locative literature guru Matt Blackwood explains it more fully here.

His work has inspired me and a few others, so much so that we have just received approval from Micro Galleries to create stand alone locative literature that responds to the theme, place and people (not necessarily the installed art work created for the exhibition). This is exciting because it recognises locative literature, indeed all literature, as a legitimate form of art in its own right. My only problem now is that we have only three weeks to produce the work!

This week we were provided with a map of locations and associated themes. After attending one of Graeme’s workshops, I sat down and picked three locations that inspired me.

map Nowra fb

I’ll be working on one location a week over the next few weeks. I think the writing process is sometimes more interesting than people’s finished work so I’ll post a weekly blog about each site, its theme and background to share the experience. I’d welcome your feedback and discussion.

Graeme Gibson and some of the participating writers visiting sites around town as part of the literature workshop.

After the launch on May 8th, I’ll post photos of the exhibition and share my work along with the other exhibited work.

I have chosen Egans Lane,  Emporium Lane and a slightly spooky one metre wide walkway between buildings, with no name. The idea is to write within the theme, using the setting and people within the narrative. It can be fiction, creative non fiction, prose, anything really.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing but will have enormous fun working it out. Stand by for Egans lane …