Design: Paul Mylecharane and Beaziyt Wourou
Number of Pages320 DimensionsWidth: 203mm Height: 276mm Spine: 22mm Weight930g
A Wharfie’s Story - play, protest, consequence publishes for the first time the research materials, photographs, drawings, writings, and documents produced and gathered during the making of multifaceted art project A Wharfie's Story (2015). At the project's heart was the development of an original theatrical work co-created by myself, as a performing arts teacher, and students aged eight to ten years, as part of the Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum at Collingwood College, a P-12 school in inner-city Melbourne. The work included a free, outdoor, twelve-act performance, as well as a script, two subsequent exhibitions authored by myself, drawings and diagrams, research documentation and this book, which reflects on the various elements of the project as a whole. A Wharfie's Story is based on Jim Beggs and his wife Tui's true-life tale of perseverance and hardship as a wharfie and trade union family. Focused around the fight for fair work conditions on Melbourne's North Wharf from the 1950s to the 1970s, the play focused on Beggs's struggle to move from the corrupt bull system--where workers were hired on a daily basis at a central pick-up point--to become an independent unionist and negotiate fair work for wharfies. As the educator and therefore curriculum builder, Maxwell worked with forty-three students over two terms at Collingwood College to develop the play as part of the performing arts curriculum. Along with a school performance in the gym (20 November 2015), the main presentation was an hour-long performance on the lawn of Buluk Park--in front of Library at The Dock on Melbourne's North Wharf--on a warm and windy summer day (21 November 2015). The public space was transformed into a theatrical platform, juxtaposing the historic tale of the wharf against the site's contemporary 21st century interface. Jim Beggs himself introduced the performance to an audience of families and historians, who applauded the students upon conclusion. This publication is wide-ranging, as befits the project it is based on. The book is divided into six texts, creative responses, a script and images both historical and contemporary, offering a combination of documentation, reflection and analysis. These texts include an interview with Jim and Tui Beggs; a transcript of Jim Beggs's speech; a self-interview; pedagogue and curator Rosemary Forde's reflection on the exhibition storyboard poetics and pedagogic projects; pedagogue and artist Lisa Radford's personal 'Dear Kym'; as well as responses by the students and families involved in the project. The publication also documents the students' work and the two offshoot exhibitions created, Learning Labour (Monash University's MFA Show, Melbourne, 2017) and storyboard poetics and pedagogic process (West Space Gallery, Melbourne, 2017). The titles of the image chapters correspond both to the stages of the project itself and to the content on which it is based: History, Backstory; Organise, Pedagogical Dialogue; Resist, Establish, Set; and Exhibit, Respond. The Consequence seeks to reveal the story of the production; the people, the institutions and the exhibitions involved. Positioning the documenting artifacts within the territory of socially-engaged art-as-document, it explores the key pedagogic and practical concerns of a practice-based research that depends on, and works within, an educational setting. What is at risk when a pedagogic project is made public? What happens when the lines between teacher and artist, education and art object, become blurred? What are the politics of this kind of artistic production?