Commissioned by Ten Days on the Island for the Site of Love and Neglect project, 2017. Curated by jane Deeth.
Brighton Army Camp, Menin Road, Brighton Tasmania.
16 - 26 March, 2017
Replica of a Brighton Army Camp hut built from wood, corrugated roofing, glass and paint. Constructed by Peter Griffiths, Luke White, Jamie Smith, Melita Orr, Mark Pearce, Scott Wiggins, and Arthur Brener of Brighton Community Blitz, and Gerard Willems. Dimensions: 440cm (length) x 180cm (width) x 250cm (height).
40 images printed on fabric, washing line and wooden pegs. Images by Nikala Bourke, Brigita Ozolins, the participants, and courtesy the Australian War Memorial and Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office. Dimensions: each image 100 cm wide, variable lengths.
Sound track by Paul Roberts, with David Elliston on piano Accordion, featuring the voices of 12 people and music from WWII, Europe and Albania. Duration: 28 minute loop.
With special thanks to: Project Assistant Nikala Bourke, Tracey Allen of Liminal Design, Brighton Council, Brighton Community Blitz, Work Skills and Work for the Dole, Gerard Willems, The Australian War Memorial, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, Brighton Heritage Association, Clennett's Mitre Ten, and John Button of Heffernan Button Voss Architects.
BAC Brighton Army Camp 2017
The Brighton Army Camp has been a site of both willing and unwilling arrival, as well as willing and unwilling departure. It is a between place, a stepping stone, an interim site of refuge and hope, as well as incarceration and uncertainty.
During the 1920s and 30s, the site became Tasmania’s first airfield and was home to the Tasmanian Aero and Gliding clubs. In 1931, Kingsford Smith began using it for a regular Australian Airways service to Melbourne, as well as flying mail to England. In 1939, the land was developed into a military base that housed and trained thousands of soldiers and army cadets until it ceased operation in 1998.
During WWII, the camp held Italian prisoners of War, and after the war, it was used as a migrant hostel for WWII refugees while also providing much needed housing for Tasmanians who were homeless. The camp also provided emergency accommodation for some of those who lost their homes in the 1967 bushfires, and in 1999 it was renamed Tasmanian Peace Haven and became a temporary home to around 400 Kosovar refugees. In 2003, the majority of the land was purchased by a Sydney-based developer. The army huts were all sold and removed, and the original Army Barracks Hospital complex is the only building that remains on the site.
While the site has been a well maintained army barracks and a haven to the displaced, over the years it has also been subjected to vandalism and neglect and a number of significant buildings have been destroyed by fire. The aim of this project has been to encourage reflection on the site as a place of continual coming and going, and to honour those who have passed through its doors.
BAC features a replica of an original Brighton Army Camp hut inside one of the main rooms of the camp’s old hospital building. A sound track incorporates the voices of 12 people relating stories about their personal association with the camp merged with European and Albanian folk music, and songs from WWII. Forty large scale images, suspended across the width and length of the room, offer a glimpse into moments of the camp’s history and the lives of those who have spent time there.
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Of course, thousands of people have passed through the Brighton Army Camp site, so this project has only been able to capture a fragment of its incredibly rich and diverse history, a history that not only belongs to Brighton, but to all of Tasmania and beyond.
The project would not have been possible without thefollowing people who generously shared their memories about the Brighton Army Camp:
John Ayres, Army Reserve; Kevin Booth, Army Reserve; Lindsay Bourke, Army Cadet; Danielle Campbell, Teacher; Tim Flanagan, Army Cadet; Tony Foster, Mayor of Brighton; Elisabeth Hoare, Polish/Swiss WWII immigrant; Rodney Kean, Farmer and Builder; Anna Keiselis, Polish WWII immigrant; Mindaugas (Merv) Kozikas, Lithuanian WWII immigrant; Adye Rockliff , WWII Soldier; Ieva and Arnolds Saulis, Latvian WWII immigrants; Grazyna Smith, Polish WWII immigrant; Jacqueline Tsamassiros, daughter of Polish WWII immigrants; Marysia Wright, Polish WWII immigrant.