Tuesday, August 11, 2009


BORDERLESS is the title of a project that grew from a simple festival workshop for the Gundagai turning wave Festival in 2007. The festival's premise is a celebration of the Australian Irish connection. I chose to look at this from a woman's perspective. What it must have felt like to be a young woman, forcibly sent to an uncivilised, harsh colony so very different from their gentle homeland...where they had no female network, no services, severly limited facilities and supplies....leaving behind everyone they knew and loved. The strong survived. These amazing women left a legacy to subsequent generations, characteristics that define Australian women even today.

In the course of researching the topic, I gathered an extraordinary amount of information that just seemed to keep growing - daily! At the time there was a play being performed at the local rep theatre ....Female Transport by Steve Gooch ... that demonstrated the appalling journey out to Australia at that time. A journey of some 6 months aboard what become known as the 'floating brothels' where the women were subjected to unbelievable conditions and at the mercy of the ships crew who took what they wanted at will. It was a brilliant production which inspired some original songs.

Additional anecdotal research from local sources - some of which was very funny, stories of how some of the women who settled in the NSW Hunter region made their mark - spawned a little bush poetry and more songs. And before I knew it, there was a small album of songs ready for recording.

After delivering the workshop at the festival, I was given more stories, more information, and people asked if I could send them the information. This meant going back and writing a shortened version of the workshop - I included some of the research, some of the stories, some poetry and lyrics - into a booklet to accompany the CD.

But then the workshop began to grow - it became a full-on performance/workshop with backing musicians, lots more stories, anecdotes, and some additional songs - one of which is an Anne Infante song called "Striped Jacket Girl". And people began to tell me that it belonged on a performance stage not a workshop corner.

So what started as a simple little festival filler became a dedicated themed concert and spoken word performance! This year however, I'm trimming it back to a simplified version for smaller audiences so that the full effect of the event can enhance the audience experience.

On the CD there are 5 songs:
  • Patches [see the Patches blog]
  • Shoulder to Shoulder which was written for my wonderful daughter and is about the mother/daughter relationship
  • The Ballad of Miss Pitty based on a character from the Steve Gooch play
  • Rockin' the Boat which starts as a gentle irish air and dissolves into a feisty blues/rock number - just like those women did!
  • The Skye Boat Song a traditional song with a contemporary celtic/jazz-rock arrangement
You can hear samples on the home site www.maureen.com.au

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