The trees are talking ... in a Katoomba art installation

Artists Solange Kershaw and Damian Castaldi will create an outdoor public sound installation.

Artists Solange Kershaw and Damian Castaldi will create an outdoor public sound installation.

A reflection on the history of the Woodford Academy, stories that come alive in the trees outside the Carrington Hotel, and a variety of art, dance, theatre and song.

These are amongst the projects which have been funded by council in this year's City of the Arts Trust grants program.

Blackheath artists Solange Kershaw and Damian Castaldi will use their $8000 grant to set up "Whispering Trees", a public sound installation in Carrington Place at Katoomba.

The installation will feature equipment mounted in the trees and set up with sensors activated when someone walks past. This will start up a recording of a story or poem relevant to the area. The pair will work with Varuna Writers Centre to engage local writers.

"The idea is that as you walk up to the tree, it starts whispering to you," Ms Kershaw said. "As you walk away from it, it stops. It comes alive only when you are there."

Ms Kershaw and Mr Castaldi are relatively recent arrivals in the Mountains but have spent many years working with audio video installations. Ms Kershaw said council had been very helpful, suggesting appropriate sites for their work.

"We don't want to scare people and we don't want it to be dangerous," she said. The trees outside the Carrington seemed an ideal venue for the installation, which will be set up early next year before being installed at Varuna during the 2015 writers' festival.

Another grant, of $7500, went to the Blackheath Choir Festival, which will be held on on August 22-24. Spokeswoman Linda McLaughlin said the money made a great difference.

"City of the Arts funding enables us to support local professionals by paying key artists and arts workers fees that reflect a proper respect for their talents, while keeping ticket prices low enough to make the choir festival accessible to the whole community," she said.

"With such a big event, production costs are high and the financial support of council makes all the difference."

Other recipients include Sarah Breen Lovett, who will put on a multi-media performance around the architecture and heritage of the Woodfood Academy; Kevin Lucas for a multimedia music presentation based on World War One poems, and Ann Niddrie for a photo-media project in Katoomba which will develop street banners.

Grants also went to Selena Seiffert to run "Draw on the Mountain", a city-wide, plein air drawing festival; the Brook Theatre for "Cosi 2014" in collaboration with the Wellspring Disability Group of the Katoomba Dance Theatre; and "Modern Art Projects (Map) Blue Mountains", exploring the interaction of art and domestic architecture with visual art and sound/media projects.

Chairman of the arts trust, Councillor Don McGregor said they had received 20 quality applications to the value of $150,127 but the total grants program funding was only $58,000.


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