The Wooden Boat Centre puts its hand up to support RISING Festival artist

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Known as a specialised centre for boat building, The Wooden Boat Centre in Docklands has changed things up recently through supporting a project beyond the dock.

Throughout the past couple of weeks, a cleared space in the Centre has been occupied by Filipino contemporary fine artist Leeroy New and his team, which has been a welcomed change to the regular happenings in the warehouse.

“It’s interesting and they are super-independent. They bring their own passion in, and it keeps me interested,” The Wooden Boat Centre owner Nicholas Atkins said.

The occupancy of the space came about after RISING Festival reached out to Nicholas enquiring if there was space for Leeroy New to prepare his installation throughout May.

It was a request Nicholas was more than happy to accommodate.

The RISING Festival has been three years in the making and will consume the city from June 1 to 19 with all things art, music and performance. There are 801 local and international artists to be featured across 225 events.


Leeroy New’s work in particular will be a much-anticipated part of RISING’s The Wilds event held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, with multiple sites being occupied by his work.


“We have two sites [at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl] for the festival. They are close to each other and there will be a total of four separate structures,” he said.

Specialising in large-scale immersive installations and landscape-inspired work, Leeroy New’s latest installation is made out of woven bamboo, various collected discards and surplus materials from the local recycling centre.

“The landscape is a big inspiration and a lot of it has to do with us responding to the specific terrain, the environment and how the work can physically interact with what’s available and what’s already existing in the space,” he said.

“We tend to intuitively respond, and the work adapts and evolves according to the site.”

No longer at the Boat Centre after leaving on May 17, Leeroy New and his team are busy assembling the “sci-fi looking forms” on-site to transport the people experiencing the festival to an “alien-like landscape.”

But it was the unexpected “perfect space” provided at the warehouse that Leeroy New said was “very helpful” in helping him prepare.

“[Nicholas and I] learnt a lot from each other because making things is what interests us both. We are different people with different skill sets and specialities and I have built installations inspired by boats, so we had a lot to discuss and share,” Mr New said.

Following the success of opening their doors to Leeroy New’s short-term activation project, Nicholas said he was hopeful the Centre could continue to provide facilities to the local community for various projects in the future. •

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