Dogs, Boats and Airplanes; they tell more about a culture or society, according to Yukon-based artist Bill Burns. Is the dog the well nourished, a hunting companion, the pride of the family or a street nuisance? The answers to these questions and others reveal quite a lot about a place and it’s people. He began noticing that Dogs, Boats and Airplanes were ciphers of greater meaning during a period of heavy travel to residencies and festivals.
Fast-forward, we are with Burns is in the small city of Launceston, Tasmania, in the north of Australia’s ‘Apple Isle,’ and the Junction Arts Festival is about to kick off. Burns and his creative and life partner, Krys Smith, busily try to organise a stream of props, managing last minute changes to the script, score and choreography, and over 100 children making the sounds of Dogs, Boats and Airplanes. Not an easy task.
Burns has been invited here by Natalie De Vito, a native Canadian and director of the a project set on revitalising the local arts scene in this city. Burns, Smith and De Vito met in Toronto nearly a decade before, when they got to talking about the idea of making a children’s choir out of Burn’s “Dogs, Boats, Airplanes” idea. And it’s finally coming together.
When the lights went down, Burns’ vision came to light: a strange, beautiful work that revealed a bit about the life of a local child. The roles in the choir were filled by children from seven different schools in the community, representing both the old and new families of Launceston, with children from immigrant communities telling stories alongside rural Tasmanian families.
Curious how it all came together? We captured the best moments of the weekend and the performances on video, watch it here.