Sound and silence on the Seagull

NOBODY quite knew what to expect when they boarded the Seagull on Wednesday, but one lady’s description – that it was like a half-hour massage – summed up the response.

There wasn’t a hint of wind as the boat, which has been transformed into a mobile sound installation as part of the Four Winds Festival, was launched at Beauty Point on Wednesday morning.

Skipper/artist Jamie Watts was deliberately silent as he rowed his first passengers, five at a time, out onto Wallaga Lake just after dawn.

On the water, recorded soundscapes and stories of the region played through the vessel’s speaker and mixed with the natural sounds of the lake.

An interview with a dairy farmer, noises of a cattle herd, bird calls and an expert description of the lyrebird’s mimicry were among the recordings.

At times, it was difficult to discern whether the sound was coming from the speaker or the environment.

The installation is the result of a collaboration between Mr Watts, sound artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey and locals who provided the stories.

Ms Flynn and Mr Humphrey spent a year studying the region while preparing the Seagull.

Twenty people rode the vessel in the first hour and another 30 turned up at 7pm for the sunset excursion.

The Seagull was then loaded onto a trailer yesterday for “land excursions” to the Bermagui Surf Club and Murrah Hall, and will head to the Bermagui Nature Reserve in Nutley’s Creek Rd this afternoon from 4-5.30pm.

It will appear throughout the Bermagui region from now until the Four Winds Festival at Easter.

Mr Humphrey explained the idea of having the boat pop up from time to time was inspired by the story of a man who lived around Gulaga, who had a boat hidden somewhere in the bush.

The exact location of the boat was never known, but occasional sightings of it were reported.

Seagull project coordinator Prue Kelly invited anybody interested in taking the excursion to book in advance.

Contact Ms Kelly at pruekelly@bigpond.com or 0418 161 547 and stay posted for further excursion information.

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