The Avoca Project is an international art project in regional Victoria, Australia, centred on Watford House. Referred to locally as 'The Swiss House', this pre-fabricated gold-rush residence was imported as numbered planks from Scandanavia via Hamburg in 1852. The house is thus an immigrant, its walls revealing stories of wealth and a European glamour now faded by the harshness of the climate and the decreasing services that are the result of globalisation and climate extremes in rural Australia.
Lyndal Jones is an artist who focuses on the politics of context, place and gender through very long-term projects. Here she works with the local community and national and international artists, scholars and climate change experts to develop a series of works of art to address this weathered but resilient immigrant house , the place, the land together with the social and individual humans who inhabit it as a site of climate change and response.
The Avoca Project takes place over 10 years (2006-2016) and includes land works, exhibitions, performances, film showings, concerts and symposia, always with Watford House rather than simply at it.
In 2008 The Avoca Project became a Not-For-profit organization to support the numbers of artists, large-scale community cultural activities and increasing number of partners involved. Chairperson of the Board for The Avoca Project Inc. is John Howie AM with Eleanor Marshall (a former resident) the Secretary and Tom Lowenstein the Treasurer. Lyndal Jones sits on the board as Director of the project.
Preludes and Sonatas for 15 Painters and Prepared House performance 30 April, 2016
August – November
AT HOME WITH WATFORD (including performance Watford with Flowers)
Series of residencies August – October towards an exhibition of ecological approaches to domesticity and feminism by 10 artists with 10 local women and girls, leading to exhibition thoughout house and garden.
Central to the project is the belief that visiting artists have more to learn from the context we find ourselves in than we have to ‘teach’ the communities we visit, often briefly.
To this end, visiting artists are invited to return on more than one occasion to build ongoing relationships between artists and members of the local community.
They are also asked not to consider making a work ‘for’ the community but to work with a local expert who might assist them to develop their art project in unexpected ways.
This series of performances for amateur volunteers began in 2011 during the 8 year drought in Avoca. Inspired by the possibility of the house as an ark, this series by Lyndal Jones was originally to be for local residents and their animals with the image of the hull of an ark projected onto the façade of Watford house, the idea was changed when a local resident grumpily suggested she would ‘never get a permit’.
The idea was instantly changed to people-as-animals through the use of home-made masks and costumes.
REHEARSING CATASTROPHE: THE ARK IN AVOCA
REHEARSING CATASTROPHE : THE ARK IN SYDNEY
Joiner’s Shed, Cockatoo Island, Biennale of Sydney 2012
REHEARSING CATASTROPHE: AN ARK FOR SOMERSET
Holburne Museum, Bath for Illuminate 2015,
REHERSING CATASTROPHE: AN ARK FOR MONS
2016 ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Soren Dahlgaard
2015 WRITER_IN_RESIDENCE Lesley Stern
Professor Lesley Stern (UCSD) who is currently writing What is it Like to Be/In a Garden? spent a week writing at Watford House.
A day in the garden with Lesley, a one-day symposium addressing her writing in the context of Australian gardens was held in the garden at Watford House on 29th November for 20 academics and garden-lovers.
It was supported by the Centre for Politics and Culture, School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.
2014 PHILOSOPHERS IN RESIDENCE; The Sense Lab
2013-4 ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE Lindy Lee and Mel Ogden (local partner, soil expert Martin Wynne)
For Avoca Chinese Garden creation and development
2012 ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Natalie Jerimijenko (local partner soil expert Martin Wynne)
2011 DESIGNER-IN-RESIDENCE Linda Jackson (partners, Patricia Brien and Lyndal Jones)
2010 ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Carl Michael Von Hausswolff (partners, SIAL, RMIT University and Lyndal Jones
2009 ARTISTS_IN_RESIDENCE FOR AVOCA ECO-RESTIVAL
Jill Orr (local partner, Avoca Primary School) , Yutako Shindo, (local partner Glenys and Arthur Allen), Megan Evans and Gayle Maddigan (partner, Lyndal Jones) ,
DESIGNER-IN-RESIDENCE Fiona Harrison and 15 Landscape Architecture students from RMIT (local partners/clients, 5 householders in Avoca who lent their gardens, Ian from Avoca Hotel))
2007 ARTIST_IN_RESIDENCE Jane Prophet (partner, Simon Pockley)