Demolition 2009AD: A Space Odyssey. A Supernova Weekend Community Arts Festival Bonanza!!!

Art Festival Director

A spaceship themed artsy, musical, theatrical adventure in a big room that was soon to be demolished.

Date November 2009

Skills Involved Community project management, arts festival director, artist, workshop facilitator

Burrinja Website

Demolition 2009AD: A Space Odyssey. Poster.

Burrinja was heading towards it’s period of re-development and Ross the Boss was saying there would be about a week when artists could come into the multi-purpose room and, because it is going to get knocked down, paint all over the walls. I asked him if I could be in charge of that, to which he replied, “Yeah, sure!” ‘Rahhahaa, cool, this is the chance of a lifetime,’ I thought to myself gleefully and skipped off to invent the concept… I wanted everyone to join in and paint the walls, and the ceiling, windows, toilets, floors, doors… I wanted a way of pulling as many creative disciplines together and be accessible to anyone that wanted to join in. I wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the space and times we were in and create enough art and mess to do justice to the opportunity.

This was an important landmark moment for Burrinja. The whole centre was about to become much smaller for eighteen months before it gets much bigger. The artist businesses that ran from Burrinja had to move out and the Jarmbi Gallery, artists shop, Performance Space and Multi-Purpose Room all closed. It was a very emotional time, the place brought people together and now they might not see each other again. The fabulous energy and spirit that lived in Burrinja had to leave, and there’s no way it would go quietly, no way. The event had to celebrate and give thanks to all the great times shared and friends made at Burrinja, building community through arts.

Demolition 2009AD: A Supernova Weekend Community Arts Festival Bonanza!!

Forth from my brains came spaceships. Then shiny outfits. Then DEMOLITION 2009AD: A SPACE ODYSSEY. A Supernova Weekend Community Arts Festival Bonanza!!! About a month before the Odyssey I opened Space Station 5: The Space Team Recreation Lounge in a studio just off the Jarmbi Gallery where anyone was welcomed to come and get stuck into spacey manufacture. You could grab some of the donated materials (there was so much awesome stuff) from the Laboratory Pantry and make some outer-planetary flora, a helmet, cockpit buttons ……

As you can see the Multi-Purpose Room was an eyeball-insulting variety of colours similar to those of porridge. Only a human person could actually decide to decorate a room like that and then actually do it. It is the remains of The Shire Offices that previously inhabited the building. I took the job of eradicating this blasphemous outrage very seriously. Never again will such foulness be inflicted upon innocent souls. I needed help. After three very intense sessions with my psychologist I regained mental strength and went about recruiting a team capable of this challenge.

Lieutenant Glenn, Justin and I recreating in the Space Team Recreation Lounge

Space Team Captin Emma

greetings space agent,

your mission, should your heart and balls be made of steel, is to create, explore and destroy a universe in one week.

can you redecorate a room with your eyes closed?

can you learn to love an alien?

can you build a functioning space ship complete with composting toilet and self-reheating hot water bottles?

can you survive an apocalypse?

No worries mate.

My call was heard. Souls with brave spirit and artistic blood flocked aboard with their special skills.

The elite Space Team were; Lieutenant Glenn Scolyer, First Mate Moon Rock (Roxanne Hull), Major Leg (Alex Legg), Personal Bodyguard to the Captain: Space Pirate Pip, Skeeta, Dr Scott, Nick, Isha Molloy, Galactic Girl (Gabby Willmott), Jedi Jenny the Excellent, Ship’s Engineer Liam Mitaxa, Jenny Saulwick, Metal Head Ned Gilhooney, Major Watt (Caroline Mann), Chuga – Toilet Maintenance Man, Little Jess Andrews and Long Scott Silver.

With such quality of character beside me I felt confident that the mission would be a success. We entered the universe on Tuesday. By Thursday night we had built Starship Burrinja, with quarantine chamber, windscreen and cockpit, airlock, escape pod, waste evacuation and intergalactic gate.

After all this hard work we thought it would be rather nice to have a party, so … on Friday we invited children from Planet St. Thomas Mores Primary School to come hang out and play. They got all dressed up in capes and helmets and ran round with hover boards and super soakers, made cardboard instruments with Leiftennant Glenn and recorded it all with Major Alex, made incredible origami stars with Nick, got into clay and painting on the walls and building rockets and robots, made films with Pip and Scott and all sorts of other stuff for about three hours.

It was hilarious. I would try to describe it but words would never do it justice. If I find some photos from somewhere I’ll put’em up here …

The Space Team were well and truly pooped after that morning …

Space team crashed out on the crash mat, listening to stories from a Scotsman about Aberdeen.

The weekend landed and Starship Burrinja was open to the world. Visitors from lands and seas came to have a sticky beak, some good-looking, some not so, some spectacularly arty, others not so much, but regardless of beauty and ability, all were equal on our ship. More and more wondrous creations appeared …

Saturday Night is Beanbag Night

TRIACT played their top quality tunes. I was dancing so much that I re-injured my knee and spent the next week on crutches. That’s how good they were – check them out After all that music and dancing we piped down and cuddled up on crashmats and cushions to watch Flash Gordon on the cockpit screen with hot chocolate and popcorn.

Triact playing at the Space Party

10.  9.  8.  7.  6.

5.  4.




Demolition was imminent. On Sunday at 3.10pm for six minutes only we had


fog and lasers and lights and sirens and extreme amounts of mess. Being on crutches, I thought it better to watch from the safety of the moon, but I couldn’t see anything through the chaos. Glitter bombs, ripping, throwing, tearing, shouting, squashing, rahahaha and pulling down the black plastic from the windows, and boshing and bashing. I actually couldn’t help myself, after the initial 6 minutes of craziness I got in there with Glenn and annihilated the cockpit, which had taken ages to build. All the streamers from the ceiling were pulled down, costumes thrown around, everything was everywhere, and in the thick of it all were silhouettes through smoke and lights and noise ….

The team and I remained alive along with all our ship guests. Unlike everything we had lovingly made over the past week. It’s funny how destroying things that we have poured so much time and concentration into is hilarious, like making and breaking a sand castle. The concept of the mission was to reflect upon that impermanent nature of our universe. Good things and bad things come and go, that’s just how it is. So, farewell to Burrinja as we know it, we are putting you in the hands of real demolition experts who are going to spend the next 18 months transforming the centre into a much grander place, with a 400seat theatre, updated artists studios, a multi-purpose community space and a new educational, indigenous garden ‘Art of Place’. Good times we had, good times ahead.


a word from the captin

Special thanks goes to everyone who donated to the Odyssey, it was so appreciated and made many people very happy. Many rounds of applause to Cr Samantha Dunn V.I.A. (Very Important Alien) for supporting through the Shire of Yarra Ranges and also to Dr Ross Farnell V.I.A. the boss of Burrinja for trusting me, Captin Emma, to put on a shindig to celebrate what Burrinja was, and what it will become. Also to Dean, from Dean’s Rubbish Removal 0407 350560 for helping us clean up and and get rid of all the stuff we no longer wished to transform into art. If you need a skip, call this geezer, he charges per cubic metre – so you only pay for how much you put in.

To all those who participated – you were excellent! What a wonderful time was had by all, and it’s always the people who make times special.

And to the Space Team; that was so much fun, thank you. You are such cool people. Many strong friendships have been formed during this Odyssey. In our crew we had so many different talents and skills to share with others and I reckon we put on a damn fine public arts event. There will be many more adventures, I promise.

Demolition 2009AD: A Space Odyssey. Souvenir Sticker.