Things are piling up behind me, a wave of events and meetings and memories that seems to swell up, ready to crash. As I come towards the end of my period of self-imposed suburban lockdown, connections are leading to further connections, first-time meetings are rolling over into follow-ups, which slowly become…relationships? These second, third, fourth meetings develop a more easy casual flow. Perhaps some sort of rapport begins to build. Or maybe it’s trust. As I walk around the neighbourhood, it’s rare not to wave and say hi to somebody I’ve met through this project.
A little more than a year ago, in Kellerberrin, I wrote:
I feel like I am withdrawing, bit-by-bit, from this town. With only ten days to go, and an ever-mounting list of things to do, I’m finding it more difficult to pursue pointlessness with the same rigor as I did in April.
I guess it’s become apparent that the aims of these two projects are quite different. In Keller, I was interested to see how much I could succeed in drifting, in not setting fixed goals, in just living in the present moment, rather than working towards a deadline. The pursuit of pointlessness seemed to be an aim in itself. (And it’s surprisingly difficult!) Considered from one angle, the town of Kellerberrin was merely the backdrop for that personal project.
When I began the ‘sham, the question seemed to have changed. With the space to reflect, I realised that the relationships developed in Kellerberrin were one “outcome” of the residency- somewhat intangible, sure, but nevertheless real. Since then, pursuing pointlessness, for some reason, has dropped from my list of things to do. Why is that?
For a start, Bilateral Petersham is a self-initiated project. It began with a plan, a proposal, an idea. In Kellerberrin, I was invited to be an artist in residence, and I had few preconceptions. That blog project just grew, like an unexpected weed watered and fertilised by me and the townsfolk. It took its own shape (and, fortunately enough, that shape was kinda beautiful).
But having stepped back and recognised what went on there, I then decided to adopt the Keller interaction-and-blogging model as a tool, thinking it might be able to be used in other places too – namely in my own neighbourhood. A tool – or a framework – giving me time to look around a bit, and a structure to reflect on what I saw. As a bonus, the blog sometimes feeds back into the neighbourhood – becoming a catalyst for further meetings and experiences.
So I think back on what I wrote, a year ago, about beginning to withdraw from the town of Kellerberrin. How are things different at this point in Petersham?
I have no such sense of withdrawal. Sure, I’m getting busier as more meetings and connections come together, and as the contacts I’ve made begin to overlap and interconnect.
But there’s no sense of urgency. There’s no need to get “everything” done by the end of May. As you may have noticed, I’ve become less anxious about documenting every damn interaction which takes place. Some meetings, some things just exist for themselves. They stay with me, maybe I’ll tell you about them face to face. Maybe they’re secrets I’m entrusted to keep. Maybe they’re just not translatable to text. Maybe I’m too tired to remember them until later. Or maybe I don’t even have the capacity to recognise them consciously.
But when Bilateral Petersham “ends”, I’ll still be here. I’ll wake up on the first of June and the project will be over, but I’ll still go down to Charlie’s Deli for my milk. I’ll continue to hang out at the bowling club, and I certainly hope I get invited to more games nights at Janine’s. Wolfie and I will still potter around the ‘hood. The “artwork” will be done, but my life will have changed. Then what?