‘Understory’ is a 1.2 km Sculpture Walk which opened in 2006. Musicians, artists, writers and community members worked together to celebrate Northcliffe’s magnificent forest in a variety of ways. My brief was to create fiction for children aged from six to eleven.
Most children love escaping to secret places, so I wrote stories that kids could listen to in site-specific ‘story-nooks’ just off the trail. Voices in The Forest became a collection of five stories, linked by the presence of a lurking central villain in the form of a feral cat. But the cat also has a story…
At the first story nook you hear the bird’s story. Then the bird becomes the narrator.
Lizzie’s story is next. It is about the moment the flying ant ‘reproductives’ leave the nest to start new ant colonies.
At the next story nook you can hear the story about Meg, a very brave phascogale.
During the writing process, I collaborated closely with talented Albany artist, Kati Thamo. Kati brought my words to life visually by sandblasting images from each story onto granite rocks. She added bronze animals to create a beautiful interplay between the sculptures and relief imagery.
I then wrote lyrics for each story’s opening ‘song’. Leon Ewing, Graham Evans and Polly Valentine composed and performed these pieces, adding yet another layer to the stories. My last job was to narrate the stories which visitors can listen to via a portable mp3 player as they walk along the track. I always laugh when I listen to the audio because I remember the intensive 1-day recording session with Graham in a donga in the bush!
You can find out more about the Understory Sculpture Walk at www.understory.com.au/