Rilka Oakley: artist-in-residence April 2014

Rilka Oakley, Playing with the tide, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

My trip to Gunyah was filled with anticipation. Would the space work, would it work with 4 young kids, would we find things for everyone to do? I was very much looking forward to time to contemplate an upcoming independent curatorial project and was wondering when I would find the time, but also trusting that I would.

Rilka Oakley, Keeping an eye on the kids, 2014 Gunyah April AIR 

We were all delighted on arrival. A lovely welcoming space that would be ours for a week – the kids chose sleeping spots and changed their minds often. Once rooms were decided we quickly went to explore the jetty – nerve wracking as it was (for me) no one fell off and it was an endless source of entertainment for kids and adults alike – we had been there ten minutes and saw a HUGE turtle – such a lovely introduction to the bay.

Rilka Oakley, My favourite spot – another view, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

Part of the plan for the week had been to maximise the low technology experience by not spending time on our phones except for essential calls. In the end I did need to use the phone at night to send some emails and make notes about exhibition ideas. But I abstained from social media and didn’t spend time texting friends. It became a kind of detox and I came to realise my use of social media does not enhance my life. Minimal use is more beneficial.

 Rilka Oakley, Out on the water, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

We made forays to the local beaches at Hawks Nest. Hunted for Koalas but didn’t find any. Walked the bush tracks and looked at blocks of land with lust for the perfect waterfront bit of bush. The history of the land development and the Canberra-style road layout is fascinating. I doubt we will be buying in North Arm Cove but it was certainly tempting. 

Rilka Oakley, Considerations, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

We spent many hours of each day down by the jetty playing, fishing, collecting and paddling in the boat. We were lucky to have dolphins come to visit but I didn’t get any photos. Not using the phone meant I have very few photos of our outings and activities.

Rilka Oakley, My favourite spot, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

I had hurt my back before we went away so I often spent time lying in my favourite place – the window seat. I wonder how many people choose that spot? I could lie there day or night looking at the trees, the water, the stars. I made notes there and sent emails. I watched the older kids on the jetty from the window. I read to the younger ones.

Rilka Oakley, Random collections, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

The record player was another delightful feature. The kids were fascinated with the “big disks” and we danced to Tom Jones, Olivia Newton John and the radio. The kids sang along to Mary Poppins and had competitions to see how quickly they could say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. We brought board games and colouring in with us and spent time spread around on the floor as a family in quiet activities.

Rilka Oakley, Would you?, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

The project I focussed on while at Gunyah is an exhibition in the Modern Art Projects (MAP) series. MAP is a social and cultural engagement exploring the intersection of art and architecture organised by a group of Blue Mountains curators/artists. Having committed to curate one of the MAP exhibitions I was glad to have the time at Gunyah to concentrate my ideas. See link to MAP website for more information. An exhibition outline will be added in due course.

Rilka Oakley, Dinner with friends, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

Having time away from home, away from work, away from technology and especially away from social media allowed me time to contemplate this project and as well as work on other ideas. Gunyah was a very welcome and delightful time out.

Rilka Oakley
AIR Gunyah, April 2014

Rilka Oakley, Random collections 2, 2014 Gunyah April AIR

Rilka Oakley is a Blue Mountains based curator working within contemporary practice. She is currently the curator at Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Katoomba and guest curator for MAP at Falconbridge July 2014. 
You can read her residency proposal here.