What the Sea Never Told was created as the centrepiece for Hazewinkel’s 2018 solo exhibition of the same title in which it was presented at cinema-like scale. Two synced projections measuring 18 metres shimmered and flashed with abstract and representational images filmed below, above, and at the surface of the sea all set to an elegiac score by J.David Franzke.
The video unfolds the narrative of a forgotten history that continues to haunt the artist’s boyhood hometown. Fifteen minutes of epic seascapes and at times unrecognisable frenetic abstract images pull against each other or flood together in fluid harmony in this evocative and highly personal meditation on the 1892 drowning of fifteen young men who, like Hazewinkel, grew up in Mornington.
In the correspondence between the exhibition curator Danny Lacy and Hazewinkel published in the accompanying project publication Hazewinkel writes, “I spent my boyhood, adolescence and emergent manhood living in Mornington. Through these ages I swam at the same beaches and in the same creeks, walked the same cliff paths, snorkelled the same reefs, climbed some of the same trees and sailed the same waters as the fifteen drowned young men. In this way, I feel a special kind of kinship with them and this is where the impulse to make this work originates.”
The story told by this work is a tragedy. It is regarded as one of the greatest sailing disasters of Port Philip Bay and remains one of the darkest moments in the history of Australian Rules Football.
On the night of 21st May 1892 a fishing yawl named Process set out under sail from Mordialloc Creek for Mornington. She was carrying fifteen young men from the newly established Mornington Football Club who had just played a match against their bayside rivals the Mordialloc Bloods. It should have been a relatively uneventful journey home for the young men, given the weather conditions it should have taken no more than 2 or perhaps 3 hours to sail the 11 nautical miles home. Process never made it back that night, she met with disaster somewhere out on Port Phillip Bay, all fifteen young men drowned, only four bodies were ever recovered.
The disaster had crippling psychological and economic ramifications for fledgling community of Mornington. Almost no family escaped the loss of a son, a brother, an uncle, a boyfriend, a husband, a mate, a father.
The event sent a slowly breaking shock wave around the country, news travelled at a different meter in those days. As it broke, the news triggered an empathic response which saw local football clubs as far flung as Broken Hill playing benefit matches while brass bands performed impromptu concerts on bay side beaches to raise funds in support of the people of Mornington; especially those placed most at risk through the loss of the men in their lives.
What The Sea Never Told (which borrows it’s title form a book written by Alice Caldwell who lost three brothers in the tragedy) was presented alongside four large seductive yet quietly cautioning Ifochrome photographs of the surface of the sea. Highly reflective and richly chromatic these photographs evoke a sense of calm while resonating with the pull of something darker.
The video and photographic elements of the exhibition were accompanied by an 80-page publication. Neither conventional exhibition catalogue nor textual historical narrative, the publication is an artist’s book. It charts Hazewinkel’s engagement with the local sporting clubs whose members (in 1892) came to the aid of the people of Mornington. Page after page after page (22 in total) are dedicated to team photographs drawn from the archives of the local football clubs that were involved in the original response to the disaster. These archival group portraits offer us a deep and intimate appreciation of this largely forgotten history.
The publication includes a Foreword by Jane Alexander, Director of the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (which commissioned the project) followed by a transcript of the correspondence between exhibition curator and artist, plus a short, profoundly moving , personal text titled What does loss look like? by Isobel Parker Philip.
Please see the accompanying photographs here.
For enquiries concerning the project publication please email firstname.lastname@example.org