The Batela Project

Lead Creatives: Halcyon Macleod and Clare Britton

The Batela Project

In The Batela Project, the ancient boat will be the center piece of an interdisciplinary and interactive artwork that draws its content from stories set on the waterways of the location in which it is to be presented – initially in Hobart, then potentially regional Tasmania and finally around Australia. The vessel will be built by Master Builder, Matthias Luhmann, together with MDP. It is imagined as an intimate work where audiences of 4 people at a time will be rowed between two locations. This will be an engaging and anachronistic passing image for people on the shore. As the passengers are rowed, they will listen to an original audio composition that includes recordings of the stories about local waterways. These stories will be gathered from the community by Clare and Halcyon and woven into an original composition. As well as the live event, the performance will be documented and compiled online so that people can connect with their local stories.

The Batela Project utilizes sound, video and participatory experiences to map complex cultural relationships. It explores the potential of technology to connect us to our history and our culture; it is a reconciliation of old technologies (ancient wooden boat construction, oral traditions across cultures) and new technologies (digital systems for recording, sharing and broadcasting information).

Clare and Halycyon initiated this  project as a way of understanding their cultural heritage with their hands. In the days of the Batela their ancestors lived in the Venetian Empire. The Batela is an ancient vessel. We want to transpose it into a modern Australian context. Over the coming years, we aim to create networks and relationships that will help us to understand more about the contemporary and traditional significance of Australian waterways. These enquiries will be supported by Aboriginal elders  Aunty Rhonda Dixon Grovenor and Aunty Loretta Parsely.

Halcyon Macleod is a writer and theatre-maker and Co-Artistic Director of performance ensemble My Darling Patricia. Halcyon has focused her practice on creating interdisciplinary performance through collaboration and exploring the role of active audiences. Halcyon has played a key role in the creation of My Darling Patricia’s work since 2004 including Kissing The Mirror; Dear Pat; Politely Savage; Night Garden; Africa and Posts in the Paddock. Halcyon writes the original texts for My Darling Patricia’s performances. Halcyon received the George Fairfax Memorial Award in 2010 and a Cultural Leadership Grant from the Theatre Board in 2012. My Darling Patricia will premiere two new works in 2014 The Piper and Mantle. 

Clare Britton is a interdisciplinary artist who works across concept, design and performance. Clare is Co-Artistic Director of My Darling Patricia. A founding member of the company, Clare has collaborated to create My Darling Patricia’s process and body of work. My Darling Patricia has received numerous awards and toured nationally in Australia to great critical acclaim. Clare has collaborated on all of My Darling Patricia’s Projects Concurrent to her practice with My Darling Patricia, Clare has an active freelance practice. This includes an ongoing collaboration with artist Matt Prest- creating performance/installation works The TentHole in the Wall and, in collaboration with Branch Nebula, Whelping Box. Clare is currently developing My Darling Patricia works Mantle, Alice Osborne’s Falling, The Piper and The Batela Project. Freelance, Clare is working on Yurt Empire, Aunty Rhonda Dixon Grovenor’s The Fox and the Freedom Fighters and Room Noise with Matt Prest. Clare is undertaking a Masters in Studio Art (sculpture) at the Sydney College of the Arts.