Comprising a fifteen minute multi-screen HD projection presented at cinematic scale (accompanied by an original score by J.David Franzke), four large Ilfochrome photographs and an eighty page project publication What the Sea Never Told centred on the aftermath of a historic sailing disaster in which fifteen young men from Hazewinkel’s boyhood hometown lost their lives.
Focussing on the social response to the 1892 drowning of the young men (members of the local Football Club who were returning by sea after playing a match against their district rivals), What the Sea Never Told was Hazewinkel’s highly personal meditation on the collective grieving of a small community whose early social and economic life was intertwined with the sea. Described by the artist as ‘a soft embodied memorial’ the project is dedicated to the fifteen young men who lost their lives at sea.
watch What the Sea Never Told here
The following extracts are drawn from correspondence between the artist and the exhibition curator Danny Lacy. A transcript of the entire correspondence is included in the project publication which will soon be available at the Texts page of this website.
DL - What The Sea Never Told is a new project that takes as its starting point the tragic events of the 21st May 1892 when fifteen young men from Mornington drowned in Port Phillip Bay on their return from Mordialloc where they had gone to play a game of Australian Rules Football. It remains one of Australia’s worst sporting tragedies and it is difficult to comprehend how devastating the profound loss of fifteen young lives must have been for the small township of Mornington in 1892. How did you first become interested in this tragedy and what was the reason for wanting to make a series of artworks that respond to this event?
AH … I spent my boyhood, adolescence and early manhood living in Mornington. Through these ages I swam at the same beaches and in the same creeks, walked the same cliff paths, free dived the same reefs, climbed some of the same trees and sailed the same waters as the drowned young men. In this way I feel a special kind of kinship with them and this is where the impulse to make the work originates…Throughout the research stages of the project and whilst making the artworks for the exhibition I have kept close the concept of ‘premembering’ which I define as a form of distributed memory, wherein one’s culture (or place) stores up the traces, residues and presences of those that lived and died before for all of its future inhabitants. The story at the genesis of these artworks inhabits Mornington in a particular way, it comes to the surface of the collective consciousness and recedes again but it never goes away, it remains under the collective psychic skin of Mornington.
DL - I understand that there is still plenty of speculation about what actually happened on that fateful night on 21 May 1892. I always think of Port Philip Bay as a relatively calm body of water. The conditions for sailing must have suddenly changed for such an incident to occur? Only four bodies were ever recovered and material was found washed up as far down the Bay as Sorrento. Through all of your research into the tragedy combined with your knowledge of sailing and experience of being out on the water, what are your views now of how the tragic event occurred?
AH… speculation is at the core of how the tragedy continues to inhabit the collective consciousness of Mornington. Culturally the story functions enigmatically, in a way akin to myth. The uncertainties, the grey smudgy areas, the very questions surrounding the event are what gives this story it's enduring vitality.
DL - For your project we were successful in receiving an Artist Residency Program grant from Museums and Galleries NSW, supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, which enabled you to spend 8 weeks down at the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Artist in Residence at Police Point in Portsea. Can you discuss the importance of the residency for the creative research and development of your project?
AH… a project of this nature draws together many different creative practitioners and I wanted everyone that came to work on the project to have the opportunity to spend some time in that very special luminous atmosphere which is created when two large bodies of water lay either side of a narrow strip of land. I also wanted everyone involved in the project to have the opportunity to spend time looking at, and where possible, to spend time on the body of water that took the lives of the fifteen young men. I hoped the land and the seascape would very gently exert an influence on everyone working on the project ways of thinking.
The project was commissioned and presented by the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.