Recently my Partner Kelly and I painted a park bench in the South West on Sturt St near Whitmore Square as part of a Council funded scheme to get locals to decorate park benches. We invented fictional characters and used the front panel to detail their achievements. On the back of the bench there are portraits of the same people, with alternate, or less success oriented, histories. We were routinely treated with friendly curiosity by locals, most of whom seemed to believe that the histories were real. This was suprising, given some of the details (one sea captain was said to be the first to navigate the Patawalonga, while the earliest known European to erect a dwelling was named "George Clooney". I suppose it gives you a sense of how unquestioningly we accept histories. Our execution was a little clumsy at times, but one of the ideas was around how boring the conventional facades of histories can be, with the really juicy stuff often excluded due to uncomfortable ambiguity or shame. I wonder if this is a more problematic issue in Australia, with the short and inglorious story of white Australia leading to a bland defensiveness in terms of what can be recounted in order that we might understand ourselves. I was prompted to think about this by the wrapping in brown paper of the statue of King George, which I think was a performance relating to this website (?) Anyway, it is encouraging to see this site encouraging people to cut through the crap and share history in their own terms.

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