Siri Hayes currently lives and practices on Wurundjeri Woi wurrung Country in northeast Naarm/Melbourne. Hayes works with photography, video and textiles as materials to investigate the photographic paradox in which illusion and the indexical or physical connections to the real, coexist.

Siri Hayes

Hayes has been practicing for over 20 years and her work has been exhibited at institutions such the National Gallery of Victoria, Heide Museum of Modern Art and Centre for Contemporary Photography, as well as internationally in Finland, France, Japan and Poland.

Chaco Kato is an interdisciplinary artist working across large scale installation to small drawing and community-based projects. Collaboration and negotiation are crucial tenets of her work with collective actions and communal discourse. She is also the founder of Slow Art Collective (2009-), which focuses on deploying sustainability with DIY survivalist aesthetics. Kato has exhibited as both a solo artist and through Slow Art Collective extensively across Australia: National Gallery of Victoria, Gertrude Contemporary, McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, MPavilion, and numerous of Council and community places. Kato is Japanese born, and moved to Australia in 1996, she currently works in the Dandenong Ranges on Wurundjeri Country.

In Place Inc. is an NFP cultural organisation engaging artists and organisations from multiple disciplines. In Place affords artists access to sites of cultural, social and environmental significance for research, collaboration, production and presentation. Artists and researchers are provided with the time, place and space to develop projects which have the capacity to influence the national conversation around the critical issues we face today, and into the future.

What activities will the Creators Fund support you to undertake?

This Creators Fund supported project encompasses two stages: the Tier Drop Garden and the Escarpment Project [working titles]. The project has been conceived by artist, Siri Hayes, In Place Director, Eugene Howard, and artist Chaco Kato. The project is being creatively produced and supported by In Place through the In Place Commissions Stream. Creators Fund support enables an extended period of research and experimentation within a conservation zone, through a flexible residency at the new Garambi Baan/Laughing Waters Residency Centre across 2021-2023, operated by In Place.

The project utilises a cross-industry collaborative approach to engage with place, delivered in partnership with Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Dave Wandin (Firesticks; Wandoon Estate; Wurundjeri Corporation), Senior Botanist with the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), David Cameron, and a suite of artist and researcher collaborators.

Creative innovation is driven by the requirements for both a consultative custodial model and environmental science principles, centred on a stretch of ecologically and culturally significant riparian landscape, being assessed and prepared for a potential future cultural and/or ecological burn.

Can you talk us through what your work routine will look like with the help of a creator’s fund grant?

This collaborative project is being delivered in a staged, seasonal way. The first phase has commenced, and we acknowledge the generous additional support provided by the Phillip Hunter Fellowship (University of Melbourne).

The development and research for the project is occurring on site at Garambi Baan/Laughing Waters in the peri urban fringe of northeast Melbourne. The first phase is structured as a consultation phase, inviting various experts to collaborate on site and on the design and delivery of subsequent stages. Specifically, Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Dave Wandin is advising on the preparation of the site for a future cultural burn. Through consultation with a suite our stakeholders we aim to utilise this process as an avenue for generating an innovative ecologically, socially and culturally engaged ‘best creative practice blueprint’ for caring for place, whilst also producing materials and processes for the development of new works of art within the extended project timeframe.

We hold regular on-site meetings together and with key stakeholders, collaborators and partners. In consultation with project partners, Uncle Dave Wandin and David Cameron, we are developing the use of quadrat* surveying not only as a method to observe the changes in ecology in the Tier Drop Garden and later the Escarpment, but also as means for generating artistic outcomes, developing an exhibition design, and structuring the duration of the project. In the second phase, artistic collaborators are being invited to participate in workshops and the project-whole, as either collaborators, observers, or to make new interrelated work(s) themselves.

The project coincides with the 2021 launch of the Garambi Baan/Laughing Waters Residency Centre and represents a critical aspect of In Place’s foregrounding of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung cultural knowledge – seen through In Place’s partnership with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation – custodianship and supporting contemporary practice which is actively centring interdisciplinary engagement.

*a botanical research tool for documenting plant species and recording changes over time.

Where would you like to see yourself and your career at the end of this process?

Through the development of a new best practice ‘blueprint’ for caring for place as a creative practitioner, an aim of this project for us all is to examine the potential for the sharing and dissemination of this method of engagement with place with the sector, and to apply it in the wider Garambi Baan area and, ultimately, numerous other locations across Victoria. The research aspect means the project has artistic and environmental outcomes that can be extrapolated within academic, cross-sector and creative institutions, and shared both in place and digitally.

We see this project as the beginning of a new type of practice that will propel our work into new diverse fields for many years to come.



Find out more about the Creators Fund program.