Meredith Connie is a classical guitar performer, teacher and composer. In early 2020, Meredith undertook a residency at the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Police Point Artist in Residence Program.
My process as a composer is very collaborative, and I often compose using extra-musical elements, in a style that I call Narrative Guitar. When working with other people the piece will change, when working with a landscape or a literary source the work bends and molds itself to the life of the text/image in a form of communication.
I arrived at the Gatekeepers Cottage with plenty of project ideas, but all of them were swept away after exploring the landscape and buildings in Point Nepean National Park, because I felt they had such a strong story to tell. I wanted to tell of an immigrant arriving off a ship, and then journey to some of the locations in the old Quarantine Station and allow the memories of the place to sink into me and somehow come out in musical form.
I chose seven locations as though on a journey, further and further away from distant lands and more and more steeped in the landscapes and soundscapes of Point Nepean. As I told that story, I was very influenced by our own experiences as a culture and as an interconnected worldwide community, suffering through our own pandemic. I would never have written Hospital no. 3 in such a way – a building, cascading, ever growing onslaught, if I hadn’t lived through my own version of lockdown quarantine.
The whole experience of spending time in these locations was profound and very moving. And underneath our own modern pandemic, the Influenza pandemic of 1918, and the various plagues and infections of the previous century, lies the history of the Bunarung/Boon Wurrung people, and the devastation of their people when European settlers arrived with all of their diseases. It is a very layered site and a very beautiful site, and I am profoundly grateful for the time I spent there.
Quarantine Station Variations process:
Explore the natural landscape and old Quarantine Station and their stories
Compose music with seven sites around the old Quarantine Station in mind
Record the music in the Cottage
Record ambient landscape sounds in each of the locations and lay them under the recordings of the guitar
Video myself performing each piece on location
Construct both a set of musical variations and a video of the piece being performed in each of the sites.
About the Police Point Artist in Residence program
Mornington Peninsula Shire runs an Artist in Residence program at Police Point Shire Park, Portsea, Victoria.
The historic Gatekeepers Cottage (c.1888) was built for the boatmen of the Quarantine Station at Portsea. Located in Point Nepean National Park, the Quarantine Station has outstanding natural and heritage values. It was used to control and prevent the spread of diseases such as Scarlet Fever and Typhoid, from immigrants arriving by sea during the 1800’s. In 1901 the cottage became accommodation for the Gatekeeper, who monitored movement in and out of the Quarantine Station.