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Come aboard: Melbourne's arts take to the water

While it may be famous for its bars and cafes, street art and laneways, and temperamental weather, a new arts project is encouraging people to see Melbourne differently – as a city by the water.
Sound artists Tim Humphrey and Madeline Flynn created the project Five Short Blasts by conducting over 40 interviews with locals from Melbourne’s port community – from rowers and container ship workers to patrollers and houseboat residents – to capture their personal relationship with the port.
Electic boat
These interviews will form the basis of intimate and evocative audio storytelling journeys aboard quiet electric boats. Participants will have their attention shift from land to water, reframing their perspective on Melbourne, while also witnessing live choreographed performances from members of the community.
We spoke with one of the Five Short Blasts community members, rower Jordy Finch, about her involvement with the project.
How have you been involved in the project?
I was one of the community members who was interviewed about my experiences with the water for the storytelling aspect of the project, but I’ll also be part of the rowing crews that will pass through the area at different points during the performances.
What can people expect from this experience?
They’ll gain a wider understanding and appreciation of the water and the communities that rely upon it. The amazing thing about Five Short Blasts and these boat journeys is that people have an opportunity to learn and appreciate the ways of the water while being in the environment themselves, making it a far more immersive and affecting experience.
Do you find it strange that people may not see Melbourne as a water city?
Well, the Yarra is such a significant feature of Melbourne that it’s hard to ignore its presence.
ARowers_liftinglthough a lot of people may not know about the various communities that use and rely on the water, they may appreciate it in their own way, even if it’s just to have lunch by the river. In fact, often we get passers-by stopping to take photos and ask questions of us (rowers), so they do notice us. It may be different for the port area, where if you don’t work, live in or visit that part of the city, you might forget that it’s there and that it’s full of vibrant communities.
Explore Melbourne’s waterways by booking into one of the Five Short Blasts boat journeys, happening from Friday 22 November until Sunday 15 December. You can also hear the sound installation by tuning in to Tower Radio on 89.5FM during performance times.