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Following a seafarer’s journey

28 Apr 2015

Following a seafarer’s journey Image

Thousands of seafarers visit Victorian ports each year, but where do they go once they re-board their ships?

An installation launching at the Mission to Seafarers’ Norla Dome this month seeks to track the movements of seafarers and the souvenirs they carry with them.

The installation, The sea is all around us: Sensing the remote at the Norla Dome, by Margaret Woodward, is part of an ongoing research project into the “social life” of souvenirs.

Ms Woodward is an associate professor of design at Charles Sturt University and has previously created installations on the idea of souvenirs in Wagga Wagga and Iceland.

In her current installation, Ms Woodward will use chalk to transform the Norla Dome into a large-scale compass.

“I’m using the project to explore themes connected to geography, tourism, travel and welfare,” Ms Woodward said.

“When seafarers come into the space I’ll be talking to them about where they’ve come from and where they’re going and marking this with chalk on the floor.”

Opening on May 11, the installation will develop throughout its duration as seafarer’s journeys are added to the compass.

Ms Woodward will also be sharing tea and cake with seafarers who visit the installation and will offer them the mug they drink from as a souvenir.

Each mug is marked with a QR code and seafarers who choose to participate can scan the code to allow Ms Woodward to track both the souvenir and the seafarer’s journeys.

Ms Woodward said she had been playing with the idea of following the journey of souvenirs for some time and this project offered the perfect opportunity.

“The bigger aims are in keeping with the spirit of the Mission to Seafarers in witnessing and recognising the work of seafarers, who are so often isolated and away from their families for long periods of time.”

“This is about showing seafarers we’re interested in their journeys and we’re interested in them.”

According to Ms Woodward the Norla Dome has played a large part in creating the project, with the idea for the installation emerging after she visited the space.

“I visited the Norla Dome and my eyes almost popped out of my head because it’s such a perfect space,” Ms Woodward said.

“It’s not a normal exhibition space because it’s a working environment. It provides a way to connect with the seafaring community and the more I know about seafarers the more I become aware of how hard their existence is.”

The sea is all around us: Sensing the remote at the Norla Dome opens at the Mission to Seafarer’s Norla Dome at 717 Flinders St on May 11 and closes on May 22.

Ms Woodward will be available in the Norla Dome from 11am to 4pm throughout the installation.

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