Contact was commissioned by Arts House as part of the 2017 Heatwave iteration of their Refuge project.

Arts House – a City of Melbourne designated Emergency Relief Centre – was transformed into a place of safety in a time of an imagined heatwave.

The Bureau of Meteorology predict that by 2070 the number of days over 35 degrees in Melbourne will more than double from an average of eight a year, to 17. How can we build resilience, connect and respond in inclusive, ethical and humane ways?

During Refuge, artists, emergency services and our community come together to start conversations, dream up ideas and forge possible futures.  ‘Audience members’ are invited to take part in artistic interventions, meet with organisations including Red Cross Australia and the Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) and be a part of experimental and artistic sessions, performances and collaborations.

Each of the Refuge artists explored a particular element within the Emergency Relief Centre – sleep, communications, light and warmth, food, well-being or community.

My project, Contact, focused on those most vulnerable to extreme heat who haven’t made it to our Refuge.  Visitors were invited to pick up the phone and make contact.  Contact invited you to connect with the homeless, with the elderly, with the recently arrived, with those who often struggle during a heat wave. In this instance, the weather was not small talk.

Contact was developed in partnership with Arts HouseRed CrossCouncil to Homeless Persons, and North Melbourne Language and Learning.

Refuge Artists:
Asha Bee Abraham, Lorna Hannan, Jen Rae / Fair Share Fare, Dave Jones, Latai Taumoepeau, Punctum Inc.Emily Johnson/Catalyst & Vicki Couzens; The Elders Lounge presented by Yirramboi Festival.

Refuge 2017 supporting partners were Emergency Management Victoria, Red Cross Australia, SES Footscray Division, The Huddle at The North Melbourne Football Club, the University of Melbourne’s Research Unit in Public Cultures, Resilient Melbourne, ACTNatimuk, Nati Frinj Biennale,Creative Recovery Network and Horsham Rural City Council.

Participating artists and friends include: Hannah Donnelly, Lee Shang Lun,Greg PritchardJillian Pearce, Kate Sulan and Dawn Weleski.

Images: Bryony Jackson