Leah Barclay | Interview for the Weekender Magazine
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Interview for the Weekender Magazine

Interview for the Weekender Magazine

With a belief that art can spark social change, guest curator Leah Barclay is embracing Floating Land’s theme of Water Culture WORDS BY LISA CHANT (published in the Weekender Magazine June 2011)

How did you first become interested in, and inspired by, art?

I’ve always been inspired by art, particularly the relationship between art and social change, and the critical role of creativity in navigating a place in the world

What were some of your earliest forays into the field?

Immersive performances in Montreal, percussion experiments on the backwaters in South India and environmental installations on the Sunshine Coast. My early projects were a great learning experience to work collaboratively across cultures.

How did you come to embrace sonic languages? And can you explain what it is?

I’m classical trained as a composer, and have also studied rhythmic traditions in Sound India and Korea. Today’s global ecological crisis urgently requires a cultural shift, and in our visually dominant society we often forget to listen. ‘Sonic Art’ or simply the process of ‘listening’ has a profound ability to ignite an awareness and connection to the environment. All of my work revolves around this process in some capacity, underpinned by sound as a creative language.

What does it mean to be an interdisciplinary artist?

For me, it means the ability to cross through creative mediums such as sound, projection and digital technology. It also means collaborating in other fields such as science, conservation and marine biology to bring a greater awareness to the value of creative methodologies.

Can you tell us about some of the installations you have created?

Works such as Wolf Rock, Sounds Mirrors, Uruvam, Liquid Borders & Juxtapose are multi-sensory experiences that draw the audience into a immersive and often interactive environment. My work is collaborative in nature, predominately in an intercultural context. I’m interested in developing an ongoing dialogue collaboratively with a community that evolves over time.

Where has your career taken you?

I’ve been extremely lucky to receive opportunities to work across the world; initially Europe and Canada and over the last few years I’ve worked throughout Korea, India and China. Saying that, I’m easily lured back to the Sunshine Coast, aside from the obvious environmental inspiration, this region is rapidly becoming a leader in green art and the dynamic initiatives of the council are certainly putting the Sunshine Coast on the global map.

How did you become involved with Floating Land?

I’m been an artist at past events and always loved the concept and intention, it’s actually quite surreal that I’m in a curatorial role this year.

Did you seek out the role of guest curator this year? What does it involve?

I was in a conference in Shanghai when I received the invitation; obviously it was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. Floating Land is the creative vision of many people; my role involves working with a diverse collaborative team in developing and delivering the program.

How would you describe the festival in a nutshell?

Floating Land is an ongoing conversation about creativity, the environment and culture pivoting on a dynamic ten-day event. The conversations extend to virtual platforms accessible to a global community online.

Why is it such an important part of our cultural landscape?

Floating Land offers an inspiring platform of creativity, provocation and interaction that can underpin new ways of thinking about our future. The event acknowledges the history of this landscape and has a significant first nations component recognizing the critical value of Indigenous knowledge systems in exploring our water futures. Events such as ‘The Firings’ have also become an iconic ritual for our cultural landscape.

Do you think the recent flood crisis has given people a greater appreciation of the power and importance of water?

Absolutely, water is an element essential to life. Now is a critical time to shift our collective thinking and actions towards water globally. Floating Land’s WaterLab (2 day symposium) is designed as an interactive experience to explore water futures from a multitude of perspectives connecting arts, science, culture and politics. This will be an opportunity to understand water on a deeper level and contribute towards ideas and visions for the future.

Who/what are some of the artists/projects visitors will be able to enjoy?

Floating Land is presented at three locations; Boreen Point, Coolum and Cooroy with an incredibly diverse program of events. Cooroy is focused on the South Sea Islanders history of the region, Coolum features a series of installations from the Catchment Collective and Boreen Point features ephemeral installations, live interdisciplinary performances, workshops, forums and labs.

Whose work are you most excited to see?

I honestly couldn’t pick one; I’m equally excited about all of the projects and that’s not even being diplomatic.

Finish this sentence. Green June is …. an opportunity for the communities of the Sunshine Coast to collectively engage in reimagining a sustainable future.