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The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture is a remote-regional cultural initiative situated in the foothills of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. Established by Philip Samartzis and Madelynne Cornish the Centre supports projects focusing on the processes and impacts of sustainable energy production; effects of climate change in wilderness areas; ethnographic studies of remote communities; the chronicling of vanishing industrial procedures; and systems of representation used to render natural and built environments.
Additionally, the BCSC facilitates a broad cultural program comprising, festivals, exhibitions, publications, master classes and artists’ talks focusing on site-specific art practices. These programs establish a connection with place, its inhabitants, geographic space and memory. They engage a wide range of audiences, bringing together local, interstate and international artists across multiple disciplines and fields to realise ambitious works.
The BCSC is situated at the newly restored old school at Bogong Alpine Village located 350 kilometres from Melbourne in North East Victoria.
About Bogong Village
Bogong Alpine Village is 325 kilometres North-East of Melbourne situated at an altitude of 800 meters in the Alpine National Park between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek. The village was established in the late 1930s to service the first hydroelectric scheme in mainland Australia. More recently it has become a popular site for alpine sports, recreation and ecotourism. Click here for directions.
A Short History
Work on the Kiewa Scheme commenced in 1938 with the construction of a road from Tawonga to the High Plains. Previously the only access was by foot or horseback along tracks that had been forged by cattlemen of a bygone era. Bogong Village was established once the road from Junction Camp was trafficable (March 1939); this paved the way for the construction of permanent buildings. Prior to that life was tough; large canvas tents and flies were used for sleeping quarters and smaller tents were set up to house the kitchens. By 1940 Bogong Township had grown considerably with a general store, staff offices, recreational mess, police station, and a variety of accommodation such as single men’s quarters and residences for married staff and families.
Bogong State School
In 1941 the Primary School at Bogong Village enrolled its first intake of students comprising nine pupils. Initially the school consisted of a large classroom, storeroom and boys and girls toilets. Extensions were carried out in 1944, which expanded the capabilities of the school. A library, storeroom, pupil’s lunchroom and shelter shed were added and rock gardens were established. By 1947 the number of students had grown to 46 all of whom were children of local SEC workers. Over the years class sizes fluctuated and the building remained unchanged. In 1980 it ceased to operate as a school and sat idle, eventually falling into disrepair. In 2004 it was sold along with many other buildings in the village.
Madelynne Cornish and Philip Samartzis bought the Old School and set about restoring it to its former glory. The rotting weatherboards and floorboards, smashed windows and flaking paint are now a distant memory. The newly refurbished building occupies it’s original footprint and bares a strong resemblance to it’s former self. Although the internals have been modernized remnants of it’s past history remain. The Old School once played a significant role in the fabric of village life. It inspired the community and helped shape the minds of those who studied there. It is our intention as custodians that the School once again functions as a place of inspiration.
Reference: Kiewa Kids School Days at Bogong & Mount Beauty by Graham Gardner
“Women carried notebooks and pressed storms in them like flowers… our lives were lived in the service of these clouds…
“To live in that high land is to lose familiarity with the shapes of things. You cannot trust your eyes. In a single day I have witnessed the tremulous birth of the world. I have seen canyons boil. I have watched rain fall upwards… Before my eyes, beneath sliding veils of vapour, trees have formed soft oceans in the depths of valleys dappled by cold blue shadows… When the mists come the edges of cliffs blur, rocks melt, chasms close over and streets drop into precipices.
“Your feet are shod in lichen. Your hair breathes vapour at the roots. You are walking on clouds.” (Delia Falconer, In the Service of Clouds, 2005)
Standing on a boulder facing out onto the Kiewa Valley, the possibility that I might be able to walk on clouds doesn’t seem unfeasible. The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture residency has provided a wonderful opportunity to explore and adventure outside familiar territory, where the rarefied air of the snow country amplifies time and space. The morning mist that nestles in mountain troughs slowly lifts as sun fails to fully appear. The landscape is heavy with the effects of rain. The fire red of autumn leaves that emblazoned the elm trees on our arrival have nearly all been shaken from their limbs by persistent storms. The leaves form a richly coloured ground cover that carpets the moist earth and squelches underfoot. With incessant rain and inclement weather, indoors has been the place of choice allowing time for reading, writing and consolidating thoughts.
I am indebted to Madelynne Cornish for her generosity of spirit in mentoring, tutoring and providing invaluable feedback on my sound and art practice and specifically on the work that has been produced during the residency. Thank you also to Phillip Samartzis for the opportunity to participate in this unique experience. As the two-week residency comes to a close, thoughts turn to home.