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    Altona Pier Revue exhibition

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    By Mario Pinti

    How does a community begin to interpret and respond to the changes that happen around it?

    The short answer might be to create art. The longer answer might be to create art, bring it all together and then hold an exhibition.

    Running through to the middle of this month, the Altona Pier Revue exhibition at Louis Joel Gallery in Altona is the culmination of an expressed desire by locals, former residents and longtime visitors to acknowledge and capture in a lasting way the life of the 1888 pier, its demise, and the shiny new one that’s replaced it.

    During the second half of 2023 as demolition and construction works took place simultaneously, strong emotions were felt. Some wanted the gnarly old landmark kept and restored, so visceral was their attachment to it. Some were enthusiastic about the promise of the new. While others were already experiencing a nostalgia for what was soon to disappear forever.

    ‘We had people coming in just wanting to talk about what was happening,’ says Karen Ingram, manager of Louis Joel Gallery. ‘And we felt a way was needed for people to express their memories during these changing times. People were saying “can we do something?” and we thought, “yes, we can.’

    Local artist Ceardie Demelza took the early initiative, securing grant funding to facilitate the community interactions and workshops that brought together artists and interested people to share and record their memories and experiences.

    The momentum never stalled.

    Zoe Jones who co-curates the exhibition is thrilled with what the process, led by emerging and established artists, has produced.

    “There are around 40 artworks,” Zoe says. “Mediums include painting, photography, video, sculpture, soundscapes and writing.”

    Several works, she says, even reuse parts of the old pier. And that shouldn’t surprise. Held in the grain and fabric of those materials are the sorts of rich memories and experiences that people-focused public infrastructure will create.

    Photo by Russell Cassar Photography

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