Oceanarium opens at COPAC in Colac in time for World Environment Day.

June 26, 2017 // Colleen Hughson // No Comments // Posted in Blog, Community, Community Projects, Environment, Video Art

Oceanarium was created for the 2016 Fun 4 Kids festival in Warrnambool. This year it travelled to Colac and spent a week at COPAC for the kids of Colac to enjoy. We are hoping that Oceanarium will travel further afield to educate and delight all those who experience it.

Oceanarium Video Projections installation at COPAC (Colac)

I am one of the four artists who created Oceanarium which was led by artist Becky Nevin Berger. I created the Open Ocean Video Sphere which is a series of video artworks interwoven into the main rocky shore installation. As part of my role I ran community film editing workshops and involved the community in the production of the films. During the 2016 Fun 4 Kids Festival, Open Ocean Video Sphere had a total of 87 short films screening over 21 screens (including 5 projections, 5 Old TVs, Digi-Frames and flat screen TVs embedded into Rock Pool Sculptures). There were 26 people who contributed over 200 Gig worth of video footage towards the project and a further 85 people involved in the video editing workshops creating short films with the footage for the space.

Below are some video interviews with all the four artists involved in Oceanarium.

The following words are by lead artist Becky Nevin Berger

Oceanarium is a multi-artwork installation developed especially for children from ages 2-12. It has been designed as a way to deepen children’s appreciation and understanding of the marine environment.
Four artists worked with Deakin University marine scientists to create a beautiful world that captures the different aspects of marine ecology. Oceanarium recreates the rocky shore, an underwater kelp forest, the dark, deep ocean environment and is interwoven with video screens showing footage of the many creatures that inhabit these worlds.

This child centred installation allows children to participate on multiple levels with an array of sensory mediums and different modes for exploration built in.

Rocky Shore Wonder Place

Oceanarium Installation at Fun4Kids, 2016 from distan bach on Vimeo.

NOTE: This video titled Oceanarium Installation at Fun4Kids, 2016 was created by Distan Bach.

A series of timber sculptures made by artist Becky Nevin Berger. It replicates the rocky shore environment along Warrnambool coastline. Children can climb on these sturdy timber cliffs, across bridges and through hidden caverns and tunnels. Coloured lights and Perspex illuminate this magical world which has rock pools and rock flaps filled with handmade marine creatures.

Open Ocean Video Sphere

Oceanarium Artist: Colleen Hughson from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

Combining projected video with various embedded screens woven through the installation this series of films has been made by film maker Colleen Hughson. Using an array of footage from Deakin University’s own collection, from divers and beach goers, as well as captured herself, Colleen has created beautiful and dynamic works that bring the ocean to life in this installation.
Woven Forest Whale Sanctuary

Oceanarium Artist: Deb Saunders from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

This hanging textile work has a footprint of approximately 25sq m, it was made by artist Deb Saunders with material knitted by more than 600 participants in a series of community based workshops. A set of seven hanging knitted tubes simulates an underwater kelp environment creating an immersive, tactile space that filters light and creates dancing shadows.

Deep Ocean Other World

Oceanarium Artist: Karen Richards from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

Presented in a dark room adjoining the main installation space this textile artwork recreates the very deep sea environment. Created by artists Karen Richards and Sue Ferrari this work is comprised of intricate embroideries using iridescent thread that illuminates when lit. Participants enter the space wearing head torches that reveal countless deep sea creatures rendered in amazing detail.

Keep up with the latest photos and events on the Oceanarium Facebook Page

Read my blog about the process of creating the Open Ocean Video Sphere.


Time for a change: I Can

June 22, 2017 // Colleen Hughson // No Comments // Posted in Blog, Community

If you take look at the Australian national education and employment statistics for people on the Autism Spectrum you’d be pretty horrified, they are very low. Whats worse is they don’t have to be this way at all, there is plenty that can be done to change them. Why not aim towards statistics that as a community we can be proud of?

As a society we need to do a lot more to understand and support people on the Autism Spectrum. Our schools need to change and our workplaces need to change in order to embrace people on the spectrum. Our society has a lot to gain by accepting, valueing and encouraging people in autism spectrum.

The I Can Network is changing attitudes about people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder through the power of story. A big part of the I Can Network mentoring program is to encourage young, shy kids on the spectrum to stand up and deliver public speeches. It is no doubt a huge leap for these young people, who are generally not confident in social situations. Hearing their personal stories is a very powerful thing and leaves one both empathetic and hopeful.
Founded by Chris Varney, the I Can Network movement is still in its early stages but is fast growing to be Australia’s No.1 Autism support network. It provides education and employment growth and opportunities. And just as importantly it instills confidence in its participants and hope for the future.

This video explains what the I Can South West is, how it came to South West Victoria, why it needs your support and why I Can should be in every town in the country. I hope this film leaves you inspired.

More Info:

I Can Network website

I Can Network Facebook

I Can South West (Victoria) Facebook


Everyone loves the Silver Ball

June 22, 2017 // Colleen Hughson // No Comments // Posted in Blog, Community

It is hard to imagine Warrnambool without the FJ’s Silver Ball on the skyline, but just a few years ago its future was in jeopardy.

Keeping the Ball in the air from First Ladies – Colleen Hughson on Vimeo.

Full of rust and a public safety concern, the ball was going to be taken down unless someone took responsibility for looking after it.

Back in 2014 when Tonia Wilcox started up the Save the Fletcher Jones Silver Ball & Gardens Facebook page, she had no way to knowing what a following and impact the page would have.

It was through this Facebook page that the Fletcher Jones Silver Ball & factory was bought and spared from a demolishment by neglect. It was also through this Facebook page that an outpouring of public love for the Silver Ball was expressed, along with stories of the FJ’s factory in its heyday.

Those stories, videos and photos shared on the Facebook page inspired the FJ’s community stories project and the development of a website to host those stories. It also inspired the creation of this 30 min documentary titled ‘Keeping the Ball in the air.’

In a world where social media gets so much bad press, the FJs campaign story is a great example of how social media can work effectively; how it can create social change and how it can connect people and create community.

There are plenty of people owed thanks to the telling of this story. As the filmmaker, I’d like to acknowledge that the film was made with crowd-sourced media. I’d like to thank all the people who made this film possible through contributing their photos, videos, newspaper clippings, artwork images and documentary memorabilia.