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James Batchelor, Photo Morgan Hickinbotham.

Mulanggari Grasslands: Through the Eyes of Artists


March 21
3:30 pm-5:30 pm
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Common Ground Canberra
130 The Valley Avenue
Gungahlin, ACT 2912 Australia
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Celebrate Gungahlin



Dancer James Batchelor and weaver Sally Holliday have created new work in response to the Mulanggari Grasslands as part of Gungahlin Arts Art in Place Program.

Both artists have created work which is meditative, reflective and deeply connected to place and this event invites you to explore this stunning and often overlooked local treasure through their eyes.

This event is free but bookings are required

3:30pm – Sally Holliday, Artist talk and demonstration

Sally will share her experience of discovering and falling in love with the Mulanggari Grasslands whilst referring to photographs and examples of her work from the exhibition Way Finding.
Way Finding is a series of weavings made in reflective reverie, whilst recalling time spent in the Mulanggari Grasslands Nature Reserve over the past 12 months. For the Celebrate Gungahlin Festival Art In Place program, Sally has created a 7-piece series, honouring her connections to the Mulanggari Grasslands. Each weaving pays tribute to a particular aspect of the grassland, carrying with it its own teachings. Diverse in form, these works invite you to look closely and appreciate the details, for embedded in each piece there is a lesson, a quiet teaching.

4:30pm – James Batchelor, Shortcuts to Familiar Places

Shortcuts to Familiar Places is a new dance work by Choreographer James Batchelor that explores how movement language and ideas evolve through systems of bodied transmission. In this work James excavates the lineage of his mentor Ruth Osborne, tracing back to the early 20th Century Modern Dance pioneer Gertrud Bodenwieser and the Ausdrucktanz (Expressionist dance) movement.

Staged in the Mulanggari Grasslands in Gungahlin where James grew up, the performance evokes the exploratory roaming of the suburban oasis from his childhood that is woven through his movement language. This draws a parallel to local artist Sally Holliday’s woven grass baskets, conjuring the image of the moving body as a constellation of gestures and interlaced memories.

Audience members are invited to bring their own devices and headphones to listen to an original soundscape by composer Morgan Hickinbotham that combines synth Polyrhythms with natural sounds collected from Uriarra Crossing and Lake George.

Shortcuts to Familiar Places is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council its arts funding and advisory body, Belco Arts through the Art in Place program, Fonds Darstellende Künste, QL2 Dance and Fabrik Potsdam.

Choreographer/Performer: James Batchelor
Collaborator: Ruth Osborne
Sound Designer: Morgan Hickinbotham
Dramaturge: Bek Berger
Research Support: Michelle Potter

JAMES BATCHELOR is a choreographer and performer from Canberra working internationally. James studied a Bachelor of Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and worked for the world renowned company Chunky Move. He simultaneously established a unique trajectory for his choreographic practice, pursuing highly experimental and interdisciplinary collaborations. His works are focused on the hypnotic, visually detailed and draw the audience into a contemplative and imaginative world. In 2016 he participated in a two-month expedition to Antarctica and has since developed a trilogy of works from this experience that have been shown in theatres, galleries and festivals around the world, including Tanz im August (Berlin), Centre Pompidou (Paris) and Dance Massive (Melbourne). James was an Aerowaves artist in 2019 with the work Hyperspace, which has so far toured to 22 contexts across Europe and Australia. He has won several prestigious awards and prizes for his work including a Green Room Award and Canberra Critics Circle Award




This performance is a COVID Safe event. Please do not attend this event if you are unwell, or have recently returned from overseas or a designated COVID-19 hotspot. Please follow all directions on signage and from our COVID safety marshals. We appreciate your help in keeping our community safe!


Sally’s artist talk will take place at Common Ground, indoors in an environment with fluorescent lighting. Chairs will be provided, and the space is wheelchair accessible and on a single level. Accessible bathroom facilities are available.

Attendees will then walk as a group to the Mulanggari Grasslands, approximately 500m away. The walk contains small sections of unpaved surface.

Shortcuts to familiar places will take place inside the Mulanggari Grasslands, on uneven, grassed terrain. Seating is not provided for this performance, however you are welcome to bring your own blanket or folding chair if you do not wish to stand for the duration of the performance (approximately 45 Minutes).

The site is not wheelchair accessible, however there is a viewing area outside the grasslands fence which is paved and accessible, and offers a good view of the performance. There are no bathroom facilities at the performance site.

If you wish to discuss your accessibility requirements, please contact Gungahlin Programs Officer Michele Grimston on michele@belcoarts.com.au or 0403 929 739