Museum unveils mask exhibition

MUSEUM visitors have the chance to learn more about what happens behind and in front of the masks of Torres Strait culture at a new exhibition at the Museum of the Great Southern.

Evolution: Torres Strait Masks opened last weekend and will remain in Albany until May 3.

The Weekender caught up with artists Milton Savage and Kapua Gutchen Snr while they were in town for the grand opening to learn more about the significance of the masks and mask making within the Zenadh Kes Torres Strait culture.

“This is a replica of an ancestral mask that would have been worn for a seasonal performance,” Savage explained.

“They would dance over four days with the westerly wind … about survival and understanding the natural world.

“It’s quite a heartfelt thing; I wish my grandfather could have taught it to me.”

Savage said these types of rituals have almost been completely lost within his community, as European colonisers forbade they be performed after British administrative control began in the Torres Strait in the mid 1800s.

He said making these masks gave him the opportunity to connect with his ancestors and gave him their strength and knowledge.

At first, Savage felt confusion regarding how to craft the masks and when to make them – he was trying to make them during the day.

After connecting with his ancestors, he learned that 3am was the best time to make them and from there, everything “fell together”.

“To embrace culture is a gift,” Savage added.

Cygnet Repu from the Torres Strait Regional Authority said Evolution: Torres Strait Masks was important in closing the gap between different people and cultures, where language could not.

“It links outsiders to insiders,” he said.

“For so long, people have thought these masks were worn in only times of war, but they are also worn for love – there’s a lot more explanation with this exhibition.

“It lets us tell two stories – from behind the mask, and from the outside, looking at the mask.”

The exhibition is free to enter.

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Moscow Ballet to perform

ALBANY is the fourth stop on The Moscow Ballet’s Australian tour of fairytale classic Sleeping Beauty.

The internationally acclaimed company will first stop in Perth, Bunbury and Geraldton before heading to the Albany Entertainment Centre on March 13.

Moscow Ballet Choreographer and former Principal Dancer Andrey Lyapin told the Weekender that Sleeping Beauty was not an easy ballet to prepare, but when it was done well, it was very successful.

“It’s one of the best stories for kids and one of the best options for classical ballet,” he said.

“It is a light story, will make you laugh, and the music is very beautiful.

“It’s very beautiful too with many decorations and costumes.”

Lyapin joined the Moscow Ballet after graduating the Uzbek Ballet School in 1996.

He performed as a leading soloist in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Coppelia and Romeo and Juliet.

Tickets to the Albany performance of The Moscow Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty are on sale now and can be purchased online at au or at the AEC’s box office on Toll Place.

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New gallery welcomes exhibitors

A NEW gallery space designed for abstract artists and performers to showcase their skills and work in is now open in Mount Barker.

Resident artists and coordinators of the venue Barry Mackie, Joanne Francis and Melaine McQuillan opened the doors to 26/2 a couple of weeks ago.

The aim of 26/2 is to provide artists who do not practise traditional art forms the opportunity to exhibit their creations with other likeminded artists.

Mackie said as long as the artist’s work fit the contemporary art bill, it was welcome at 26/2.

“There are lots of galleries for more traditional art, and we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but we just think there is ample room for something different,” he said.

“We want to encourage the conversation that it doesn’t have to be traditional, real life or representational art.”

A group of Perth artists has already secured the venue – which is divided into three galleries – to exhibit at Easter.

Mackie and McQuillan are eager for more artists to approach them about hiring the venue.

“We are particularly interested in art that tells a narrative,” McQuillan added.

“And we are very keen for installation art, musicians, performing arts, workshops and art talks.”

The works of Duncan Moon, Mackie, Judith Clarke, Trevor Woodward, Christine Baker, Michelle Stanley, McQuillan, Wayne Coleman, Francis and Linda Morrison are currently on show at 26/2 until the end of the month.

If you are interested in exhibiting at the new venue on Langton Road, you can reach the coordinators through the Facebook page – 26/2 Contemporary Exhibition Venue – or by emailing

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Art concept a 10

AN EXHIBITION reflecting the very venue it has been installed in is now open to the public.

Navigate by Albany art group MIX is now on within the foyer of the Albany Entertainment Centre.

It is part of the centre’s Ten in Ten program, a concept that will see 10 visual art exhibitions exhibit within the AEC environment over 10 months to help celebrate its 10th birthday.

Navigate is a progressive exhibition and will see more pieces added to it over the next couple of months.

Lizzie Riley and Barbara Madden are some of the first artists to exhibit in the space with their photography and installation art.

Madden is displaying her photos of the entertainment centre blended with images of granite on backlit transparency film and lightboxes.

“The AEC is strongly embedded in Albany’s granite landscape,” she said.

“My work draws attention to the building’s crystal-like structure and its granite environment … using images with strong reflections is a reference to twinned feldspar crystals, a component of local granite.”

Riley’s installation is a series of delicately interwoven twigs and the ends of peppermint trees.

It hangs from the interior balcony, above the main foyer.

“It looks at what was here before the AEC,” she said.

“This area would have been covered in peppermint trees.

“I was looking at the connections between the natural world and construction, and the complexity of breaking the natural system … the piece is very fragile and full of holes, to show that once you start to pull apart the environment, you can’t put it back together again.”

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Mum’s the word in new production

MUMS are the centrepiece of a new performance work currently based at Vancouver Arts Centre.

Perth-based company Whiskey & Boots created Mama Stitch two years ago as a way for people to talk about their mothers.

Performer Georgia King said people often had

complicated relationships with their mothers, so she thought it was a good place to “mine” for a performance idea.

Mama Stitch utilises storytelling, verbatim performance and music to re-tell tales about mums the company has collected from various people in the Albany community.

“Mums are often the unsung heroes of regional communities,” King said.

“They influence you in all kinds of ways.

“They [stories] are so amazingly emotional, and we want to set them free.”

in Albany was that stories were often about resilience.

To remain authentic to those stories, she and the other three performers “get out of the way” to present each tale.

Original music accompanies the telling of each individual story.

“It’s a powerful thing, seeing and listening to a story being reflected back,” King said.

“It’s like a window into that person.

“It’s palpable, the emotions felt during the performance.”

Mama Stitch will play at Vancouver Arts Centre tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, and March 5, 6 and 7.

Doors open at 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

Tickets can be purchased at

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Waifs aid Fire Fund

ALBANY success story The Waifs contributed to raising more than half a million dollars for fire services and wildlife protection at a concert in Fremantle late last month.

It was announced last week that the two Fire Aid Benefit Concerts featuring John Butler, The Waifs, San Cisco, Stella Donnelly and Carla Geneve raised more than $650,000 to support the east coast in the wake of the devastating bushfires.

Band Manager Phil Stevens said the concert concept originated from himself and the bands as a direct reaction to the horrendous images and stories that emerged from the fire crisis.

“It was a very emotional time for Dave and Josh from The Waifs because their homes in Moruya and Cobargo had to be evacuated,” he said.

“You can imagine the stress they were going through.

“However, they knew that playing these concerts was the most effective way for them to make a difference.”

The concerts were announced within 72 hours of the idea being proposed.

Fremantle Arts Centre Director Jim Cathcart said the sold-out shows were an uplifting experience.

“These acclaimed musicians all have a strong association with Fremantle, and it was great to see the WA public coming together out of a passionate concern for the people, animals and bushland affected by these devastating fires,” he said.

All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to a number of causes including local New South Wales and Victorian fire services, the Wildlife Victoria Fund, and local communities such as Cobargo and Moruya where David and Josh from The Waifs live.

As well as giving their time to perform, the musicians also donated merchandise on the night along with Fire Fund t-shirts and tea towels.

Other money raised will go to the Freo Fire Fund, which will direct the money raised to a number of different organisations involved in the bushfire relief effort including Australian Red Cross, Foodbank and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

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Unique masterpiece makes movie history

LEGENDARY South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho made history on Monday when his hit flick Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Bong’s extraordinary achievement at the 92nd Academy Awards capped off a throng of accolades the film has received this award season and is elevated further when considering the behemoths he was up against.

Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour gangster opus The Irishman, Tarantino’s ever-subversive Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Noah Baumbach’s incredibly realised Marriage Story fell short of Bong’s latest due to one inarguable truth: we knew what to expect.

That is not so much a critique of any of these films, all of which were some of the best put out by their respective auteurs in years, but a resounding endorsement of Bong’s latest.

Parasite is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Described in some circles as a dark comedy, others as a mystery/ thriller, and elsewhere yet as something akin to a capitalistic horror, the 2019 film is difficult to present cleanly.

Its eclecticism makes it frustrating to talk about, in large part because to ruin even one of the numerous twists and surprise tonal shifts that riddle its runtime could be regarded as a moviegoer’s cardinal sin.

Suffice to say, the film succeeds in merging these aforementioned genres in a way that ensures you never quite know where you’re going.

The simple premise is this; a family, clinging to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, find themselves in the employ of their far wealthier counterparts by way of luck.

An unexpected discovery, and the word ‘unexpected’ cannot be stated enough, soon threatens their shot at financial stability.

That’s it. That’s all I can say.

Parasite is buoyed by some incredible performances by Kang-ho Song, an acting titan in South Korea comparable in prestige to Al Pacino, Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park.

The visuals are sharp, the score suits perfectly, and the script and dialogue, which shifts between Korean and occasionally English, is witty, realistic and memorable.

While the subtitle averse might find the idea of a foreign language film daunting, Parasite does not feel inaccessible in the slightest.

Bong has a proven history of merging the world of Western cinema with its Asian equivalent, having directed cross cultural crowd pleasers like 2013’s Snowpiercer and Okja four years later.

Much like these films, Parasite explores themes relevant and familiar to audiences across the globe, and is likely to strike a chord with almost everyone because of it.

It serves as a biting dissection of class struggle and income inequality, as well as a morally-challenging exploration of the lengths we will go to in order to make a life for our loved ones.

It’s funny. It’s clever. It’s brutal and unnerving and immensely satisfying, and hands-down the right choice for Best Picture this year.

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Film festival dives in deep

AUDIENCES at the Ocean Film Festival coming to Albany this month will witness the wonders of the big blue deep from the comfort of a theatre seat.

Coming to the Albany Entertainment Centre on February 26, the Ocean Film Festival will showcase a selection of short films spanning from the North Pole to the South Pacific.

These films from around the globe document the beauty and power of the ocean and celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray, who chase the crests of waves and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.

Each of the festival’s films conveys a deep respect and appreciation for the world’s oceans and the creatures that call them home.

A Corner of the Earth starring professional surfer Fraser Dovell explores his surfing during the brutal northern winters.

Swimming With Gentle Giants highlights wildlife photographer Scott Portelli’’s documentation and capturing of humpback whale behaviour in Tonga.

Deep Sea Polynesia shows a team of divers exploring the South Pacific’s coral during dives of up to 150m of previously unexplored waters.

You can secure your tickets to the event via the entertainment centre’s website – – or at the box office.

The festival’s carefully curated selection of films will light up silver screens in 29 towns and cities.

Visit the Ocean Film Festival Australia Facebook page for updates and under sea tasters.

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Albany stars in ‘rare’ film

DON’T be deterred by the cheesy trailer and poster thinking that H is for Happiness – filmed entirely in Albany – is just another kids film.

A recent reviewer of the movie described it as “rare” type of cinema and I’m obliged to agree.

When I sat down with dozens of extras and contributors for the first Albany screening last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I had spoken with the producers and actors about the movie for previous news stories published here, but I was still quite in the dark about it all.

What I saw was certainly not what I expected.

As a kid, seeing kids being the main protagonist in a movie was always pretty cool, because hey, that could be you on-screen.

As a teen and as a 20-something, seeing kids as the protagonist could be slightly painful to watch – the at-times annoying overacting, predictable dialogue and the disconnect you felt from the character due to age difference.

Daisy Axon, the lead of H is for Happiness, managed to completely dispel all of these things in her tween character Candice Phee.

Candice is full of cute, unapologetic quirks and exudes optimism to keep a positive front for her family, but not so painfully as to cause the audience to dislike her.

You can’t help but empathise and sympathise with her youthful disappointment in her family’s disconnect caused by a tragedy, as well as see what Candice does not fully understand – the pains of depression, loss, broken relationships, financial strain and all of those adult things.

But one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie is that these big issues are not forced down your throat to teach you a lesson; they are quietly ticking in the background.

It is true to how a young person sees the world – they see the problem but might not see the full picture.

Candice is everything that everyone should be; someone who is kind, non-judgmental, accepting and unflinching in her care for others.

Axon’s performance as Candice is truly beautiful.

It’s the subtleties of this movie that make it so great and the young actors who hold themselves with ease.

You almost don’t notice the big names of Richard Roxburgh, Joel Jackson, Deborah Mailman and Miriam Margolyes, because Axon and Wesley Patten – Candice’s counterpart in the other lead role of Douglas – don’t need their support.

These two young actors have a beautiful, delicate, innocent yet insightful relationship and chemistry on-screen that I am yet to see in cinema.

And it is because of this that sets H is For Happiness apart from any family movie I’ve ever seen.

Certainly a film the whole family can enjoy and take something away from.

Plus, seeing Albany in a movie is pretty cool.

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Bishop ordains comedy festival

FORMER Albany resident Rose Bishop has well and truly made the big time in comedy, performing in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the past two years and now, she’s bringing the show back home.

The Breast of the Fest is a female-only line-up of comedians coming to the Albany Entertainment Centre on February 8.

Bishop and a group of friends put the show together in 2018 “just for an excuse” to do a show in the Comedy Festival and have since roped in names like Celia Pacquola and Claire Hooper to headline.

Bishop said she stumbled into comedy as a career purely by chance while living in Melbourne.

“I made a new friend at a party and she’d just started doing stand-up, so I started tagging along to her gigs for moral support and just out of curiosity and realised that there are heaps of places in Melbourne to just try it out and sometimes be bad at it,” she said.

“I’ve always had pretty bad stage fright, but I also love a challenge, so I just gave it a bash and started doing open mic spots.

“I was 31 the first time I got on stage, which is pretty late compared to most comedians, but I’m glad I didn’t start when I was younger because I’m much more resilient these days.

“Performing can be pretty brutal at times.”

Despite still dealing with the odd spat of stage fright, Bishop said she abso- lutely loves what she does.

“I’ve always been a writer in some form or other, and I’ve always been impatient, and the thing I really love about stand-up is that you can have a vague idea on the tram in the morning, write it into dot points on your lunch break, then get up at an open mic night after work and riff around the idea and expand on the bits people are laughing at and boom – you’ve written a joke,” she said.

“It’s so immediate.

“The comedy scene is just so fun.

“I mean, it’s an excuse to hang around in bars with your mates on weeknights, laughing heaps.

“What’s not to love?”

While she’s home, Bishop will make some much-needed visits to favourite people and places.

“My most important stop in Albany is always and forever Gull Rock beach,” she said.

“We’ve been going there as a family since I was tiny, and it’s probably my favourite place on earth.

“I’m also always stoked to catch up with my friend Shannon who I went to ASHS with and who’s moved back to Albany now and is always down for a wine and a good long chat; love you, Shanners.”

Bishop encouraged fellow Albanians to come along to the February 8 show and give the February 7 open mic night at Six Degrees a chance.

“We’d love to see heaps of friendly faces at our show,” she said.

“We’re used to performing in dingy Melbourne pubs so it’s all very exciting and fancy and we’re going to try very hard not to disgrace ourselves.”

Tickets to The Breast of the Fest are on sale now via and people keen on the Six Degrees open mic night can register on the event’s Facebook page.

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