We acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation are the Traditional Owners of the land on which our music is written and produced. We acknowledge sovereignty has never been ceded. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
New Song: When the Sky is Grey Out Now!
Here is our greyhound Susie
We are playing a short live set Sunday 29 March at 16:00 as part of the @isolaidfestival
Momento Mori - The Letter String Quartet
Momento Mori New Single by The Letter String Quartet - arranged by Biddy Connor for 🎻🎻🎻🎻 with Beautiful cello solo by Zoë Barry. 🕸 We wrote this song about silkworms, known as Bombyx mori, in Latin, named after the mulberry genus Morus / Mori, on which they exclusively feed. 🕸 Silkworms spin a cocoon of continuous silken thread at pupal stage, before breaking from the cocoon to emerge as a white moth. Silkworm cocoons have been used to manufacture silk fabric and embroidery thread for thousands of years. To harvest the silk as a continuous thread, cocoons are usually plunged into boiling water before the moths have a chance to emerge. This was a sobering realisation, and changed the way we felt about the silk clothes we possess, a humbling reminder of the many moth lives that contributed to them. 🕸 The song title is a reference to the Latin expression ‘memento mori’, a western artistic motif and theme, translating as ‘remember you will die’, substituting ‘momento’ - Italian for moment, and retaining ‘mori’ Latin for both death, and the scientific name for the mulberry plant genus. Death is prescient in the western naming of a moth and plant, whose lives are intertwined. 🕸🦋
Reeds / Rush
Reeds / Rush and accompanying song map drawing have been created in response to our time as Artists in Residence at The Living Pavilion from 1 - 17 May 2019, University of Melbourne, Parkville. We acknowledge the unceded sovereignty of Wurundjeri people of the Woi Wurrung language group of the Kulin Nation, on whose land the University of Melbourne has been built. Wurundjeri people have cared for lands and waters in this place for thousands of generations. We pay our respects to Wurundjeri Elders past, present and emerging. We pay our respects to Mandy Nicholson and Djirri Djirri Wurundjeri Women's Dance Group Djirri Djirri Wurundjeri Women's Dance Group.
The Living Pavilion Reeds Rush Artist Statement
Marita Dyson and Stuart Flanagan - July 2019
Reeds / Rush makes reference to Zena Cumpston’s detailed research which accompanied the 40,000 Kulin Nation plants installed at The Living Pavilion, and to the hidden waterway, known today as Bouverie Street Creek, that traverses the University site. We learned that the creek is fed by a wetland situated under the University oval, where four River Red Gums, which pre-date the University, still stand. The creek was put into a drain following disruption and colonisation, but water still follows this path, as it always has, flowing into the Elizabeth Street waterway which meets the Birrarung, and continues out into Narrm / Nerm / Port Phillip Bay. Iuk (eels) still migrate through this waterway, and have been seen beneath drain covers and in pools across the campus.
We participated in workshops and listened to panel discussions, attended readings with Eco Feminist Fridays, observed bees and learned to identify the endemic Skipper Butterfly during an art-science biodiversity workshop with RMIT & University of Melbourne researchers Luis Mata and Christina Renowden CAUL Hub. We also learned about frogs endemic to the area from Associate Professor Kirsten Parris and listened to recordings of their calls. Mud larks regularly visited while we sat at The Living Pavilion, singing from the trees overhead.
These learnings and experiences are referenced in the song and accompanying song map.
Reeds / Rush includes a field recording of the upper Maribyrnong River by Warren Armstrong & Susannah Langley
Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush By the water, flowing under bricks of clay overlaid, But still This Place. Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush Weaving above us, threads of lomandra; Learn to find Skipper Butterfly. A woven sky. Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush River mint soft On the silty bank. Hill rolls down Towards the bay. Water is there - when the ground is turned; Wetlands sleep Where the red gums Hold. Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush Reeds / Rush / Reeds / Rush Eels return As they always have. Mudlarks know - they gather and call. Memory long - to lead you back; Thread of time A flowing line. Reeds / Rush / remember Reeds / Rush / remember Reeds / Rush / remember Reeds / Rush / remember
Newer Volcanics @MKW Wed 22 May
We are thrilled to present a reprise of NEWER VOLCANICS - The Orbweavers with The Letter String Quartet and visuals by filmmaker Brian Cohen for Melbourne Knowledge Week! Wednesday 22 May 8:30 pm Seated show in the MKW Hub: Meat Market, North Melbourne Wheelchair accessible
The Orbweavers present the culmination of their research into changes that occurred to waterways of Narrm / Melbourne in the 19th and 20th centuries. Newer Volcanics explores industrial history and environmental change, through a concert of music, poetry and cinematic visuals. Performed in collaboration with The Letter String Quartet, with cinematic visuals by filmmaker Brian Cohen. Newer Volcanics premiered in 2018 through The Substation's commissioning program.
Happy New Year - Silos on the Hill
We wrote and recorded this song in that strange and small bridge of time between the end of one year, and the start of another.
The train of 2018 has gone.
Past the silos, where all that old sadness seeped into the ground.
Can still feel it every time the train rolls by.
Water flows out into the bay, as it always has.
We cross over the bridges, over rivers and creeks, on Church Street, on Punt Road, on Arden Street, on Dynon Road, and there are those silos again, in Brunswick, Collingwood, Richmond, Kensington, standing on the horizon.
Silos on the hill, by the railway line Where I used to cry, River of my tears Wash into the bay, Now my eyes are dry (But I still …) Silos on the hill, while you’re standing still My whole life rolls by What is it you hold? Granular and gold (All our dreams and lies). And I still remember that old sadness When I pass by this way It seeped into the ground And now my feelings remain. Silos on the hill, I turn to the south, To the river mouth Where the water flows Over shell and bone, My whole life rolls by. And I still remember that old sadness When I pass by this way It seeped into the ground And now those feelings remain...
Newer Volcanics at The Substation
Newer Volcanics is a creative project with accompanying performance by The Orbweavers responding to the volcanic plains and waterways of western Melbourne. The performance will be premiered at The Substation arts centre in Newport on 29 & 30 November 2018, and is presented in collaboration with The Letter String Quartet and filmmaker Brian Cohen.
Newer Volcanics reflects on geology, industrial history and environmental change through song, spoken word and visuals. A limbic interpretation of landscape, Newer Volcanics is created from psychogeography and research we have undertaken as Creative Fellows at State Library of Victoria.
For more information please visitNewer Volcanics
Newer Volcanics is a geological province in south-east Australia. It includes the country south west of Narrm (Melbourne), the unceded sovereign lands of the Wathaurong, Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. A landscape characterised by water courses carved through ancient volcanic plains, silty clays, estuarine sediments, and low lying tidal salt marshes of abundant birdlife, where creeks and rivers meet the sea. Much of the land in the inner-west has been has been paved and overlaid by post-settlement industry and transport infrastructure, but the waterways and sometimes their immediate surrounds persist, a living thread of the past and the present, a continuing flow and force through time.
Psychogeography describes how we currently think about place in relation to our creative work: drifting through urban areas, letting our minds wander over layers of history visible as accretions and remnants; contemplating personal connections and reactions to the landscape.
Over the last year, we have been walking the lava ridges and soft lowlands of western Melbourne any weekend we can. We have walked from Moonee Ponds Creek to the confluence of the Maribyrnong and Birrarung (Yarra) Rivers. Past Stony and Kororoit Creeks, and south west to Skeleton Waterholes Creek. Where waterways have been forced through tunnels and industrial tracts, we jump fences, skirting tracts of colonising onion grass and Morning Glory along railway embankments, under freeways and along wire fencing, to arrive in fennel-covered edgelands of unknown jurisdiction. Psychogeography is like being a kid again, wandering beautiful, and sometimes desolate places without clear intention.
Walking through Melbourne watercourses has brought us to psychogeography, to histories and peoples, to environments and industries, and to creative spaces where we try to acknowledge the weave all these elements make. We want to acknowledge that we are writing on land where sovereignty was never ceded, and pay attention to stories of pain as well as resistance, histories of peoples, cultures, lands and waters. In creating these works we hope to draw attention to different parts of Narrm - Melbourne, and particularly to the layers that make all of us here.
About Radium Girls
Melbourne band The Orbweavers unveil their haunting new single Radium Girls, with a video by Berlin-based Australian artist, animator and award-winning music-video director Lucy Dyson.
The song and accompanying video tell the story of a group of women factory workers known as the ‘Radium Girls’, who were employed to paint luminous dials in the - . Radium, number 88 in the periodic table of the elements, is radioactive, toxic, and was historically used to paint luminous dials for watches, clocks and aircraft instrument panels.
About the Song Radium Girls
Radium dial painters were encouraged to lick their paint brushes to keep a fine point, without realising they were ingesting toxic amounts of radium. In the body, radium mimics calcium, and is absorbed by bone marrow.
Over time the dial companies became aware of the health hazards of radium based paint, but continued to use it without providing adequate occupational safety controls. Workers became seriously ill as a result of their exposure, took their employers to court, and eventually won - but not after gruelling court trials where their illnesses were doubted by their employers. International health and safety regulations for occupational exposure to radioactive materials developed as a result of the ‘Radium Girls’ case.
The use of radium paint for luminous dials was eventually banned, but not before many workers died of exposure related illness.
Subjects: poisons, mining, industrial history, occupational health & safety, clockwork.