Grong Grong Creative House

Motor inns are a common sight beside Australian roads, providing a private space for the public. Often experienced as an escape from driving, a retreat for visitors in a town they've just entered. Different heads dreaming on the same pillows each night, sharing in common their basic human needs.

In recent years The CAD Factory have identified various sites in the Riverina to provide venues for events. Each occasion has revealed a new way of experiencing the location, taking the familiar and infusing it with colour and sound and surprising audiences.

The Grong Grong Creative House drew together a diverse group of artists to collaborate with each other and their hosts, proprietors John and Sandra Kooper.

At the driveway to the Motor Inn was hung a screen onto which was projected images of the local railway station. Inside were a few fires and food and snacks, from tea and cupcakes to a soft-serve ice-cream and also a hearty beef and vegetable stew. Soon after Vic McEwan welcomed the audience, the rooms were opened for jostling crowds to experience.

In room number one, Her Riot (Sarah McEwan) presented a song with video film clip and copies of her manifesto. The programme encouraged viewers to get comfortable on the bed and "think about how nice it is lying in bed and watching Rage on a Saturday or Sunday morning".

In room number three, Julie Montgarrett had curated a diverse collection of objects and works. The walls featured prints with charcoal-like textures and then evolving shapes of paper, moving from tree roots to flowing squiggles that ended in the image of a sailing ship like one of the First Fleet -- evoking earlier travellers.

The centre of the room stole the show. A small round table cluttered with objects was patrolled by an inward-facing light. This arrangement added movement and mysterious shadows to the walls of the room, projecting bold dark shapes. The effect mimicked passing headlights, bringing to mind many sleepless nights watching an indiscriminate selection of silhouettes from the surrounding landscape intrude on attempts to rest.

Room number six was one of the most popular, judging by the crowd in the room and comments from visitors. Inside Clytie Smith had curated an impressive array debris to form a Grong Grong Museum, accompanied by a request for assistance in identifying and labelling these contents.

The result was a outpouring of wry and witty crowdsourced captions, among the absurd and whimsical stories that were already included on the walls. And if the interaction didn't stir an immediate response, there were a number of installations hanging from the ceiling featuring stones suspended above lit glass bottles with some beautifully shiny screws.

Meanwhile back in the carpark, a performance by Vic McEwan featured clarinet accompanied by a prepared car trailer, whose tapped and bowed sounds were looped as a rhythmic backing. On the opposite side of the courtyard were a pair of headphones next to a seat, where listeners could hear the sounds of a downpipe flushed with rain flowing frog-like noises and something approximating a possessed cello.

Room number seven held a typewriter, an illuminated piece of prose and pages of typed contributions. Many said they were menus but the contents were not prepared meals, more like chewed sentences. This collaboration between Darrin Baker and Vic McEwan encouraged confession and brought a sentimental clank of letters being stamped onto paper without the chance to undo. "Our mistakes make us, they are often better than our victories" said the programme.

Inside room nine was a short play for a puppet created by Scott Howie, who said nothing as he set a record playing and brought a small figure to life on the television. The song told of loneliness and, combined with minimal lighting, created an ambience that transported the small audiences who gathered every 15 minutes through the evening.

It was interesting to see how effective this worked for different age groups, children at the front of the room captivated by the toy-like figure while adults standing at the back absorbed the lyrics.

Room number ten shared themes with the neighbouring room in a video installation which brought to light the dreams and fears of a travelling salesman. The hotel room his refuge, the bed leading into a video screen showing a figure in slumber as images from another era came and went. A monologue revealed the acute sense of loss in hearing children's voices asking for their absent father.

These last two rooms really caught my experience of visiting a motor inn and it was stirring to read the origins of the video of Howie, which hung in the window between nine and 10:
Shower (is it still raining? i haven’t noticed) is a 6:48 video work that requires the viewer to accompany the image with la vie en rose played on a small music box mechanism.  the title references a  line of dialogue that andi mcdowell says to hugh grant at the end of four weddings and a funeral. this piece might be about missing people you love.
The video is an excerpt of a 24-minute performance recorded earlier in the week, which is also entertaining for this sequence in which Howie remembers his phone is in his pocket:

The CAD Factory's Grong Grong Creative House excelled in presenting disparate yet boldly creative installations and performances. Many of the works drew on the intersection of public and private and it was an excellent showcase for diverse artists working in a multitude of mediums.

Furthermore, The CAD Factory's blog is a good read. See