Floating on water — an artist’s chance to immerse herself in her work
Imagine living in the wilderness aboard your own floating art studio, waking up to blissful, uninterrupted views from every window.
Artists are being given the chance to do just that as part of ‘FLOAT’, a new ecologically designed houseboat-style studio on Lake Tyers in eastern Victoria.
It is hoped the self-contained floating house will be the drawcard that attracts local and international artists to the small Gippsland Lakes community, 10 kilometres east of Lakes Entrance.
Josephine Jakobi is FLOAT’s first artist-in-residence.
“My art is about ecology, about the environment — particularly about Lake Tyers — because Lake Tyers is my ancestral home and I have a deep connection to this place,” she said.
The local multimedia artist, whose apiarist ancestors first settled on the shores of Toorloo in the 1890s, has been collaborating with the lake itself, dipping lengths of Belgian cloth into its murky, tannic waters.
Over the course of a month Ms Jakobi will embark on a natural screen printing process in which algae and micro-organisms from the ‘primordial soup’ of the lake will stain the fabric.
With an eye for botanical drawing and a keen interest in the patterns of ecology, Ms Jakobi will then set about inking and embroidering the markings onto fabric.
Ms Jakobi said her time on FLOAT had allowed her to pare back, immerse herself in the surrounding nature, and switch off from the distractions of modern life.
She has to transport her art supplies, food and water by kayak from the mainland and can spend hours on the water, tuning in to the stories and vignettes of the surrounding wildlife.
“You become really aware that you are a minority and that the inhabitants in this part of the lake are all ‘other’ creatures, not so much human,” Ms Jakobi said.
“It’s a real privilege to be aware of that shared habitat and realise that I’m a minority in that.”
Creative types can apply for a six-week residency aboard FLOAT at Lake Tyers. (Supplied: FLOAT)
Art invigorates small coastal town
FLOAT was the brainchild of East Gippsland community arts identity Andrea Lane, who secured $350,000 in funding through Regional Arts Victoria’s Small Towns Transformations project.
Ms Lane said it was a chance to bring new life and energy to the sleepy East Gippsland hamlet, which is perched on the estuaries of Victoria’s Gippsland Lakes system.
Scientists, researchers, composers, writers, poets and other creative types could apply for a six-week posting.
“One of the great things that we’ve discovered about FLOAT is that it is attracting young, adventurous artists who are interested in regional life but don’t want to commit to it yet,” Ms Lane said.
“FLOAT gives them an opportunity to meet like-minded people and discover outlets for their creativity.”
Multimedia artist Josephine Jakobi says she wakes up at first light to the sounds of bird calls. (ABC Gippsland: Rachael Lucas )
There is no radio, television or internet connection, although communication with the outside world is possible via mobile phone.
FLOAT has a bed, minimalist kitchen, bathroom and an open-plan living area that can also be used as a workshop and exhibition space.
It is serviced by solar power, fresh water and waste water sewage is stored in the pontoons beneath the vessel.
“There’s no pressure to produce a body of work out of the residency here,” Ms Lane said.
“But we will be wanting artists who can contribute either to the story of the environment or the story of Lake Tyers in some way.
“We want to be a model for small towns in beautiful places by attracting like-minded visitors and artists who add energy to small towns.”