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Regional Arts Fund | Can You Hear the Whispering Walls

exhibition launch

If These Halls Could Talk was a multi-arts initiative designed to revitalise and celebrate the significance of the humble community hall and the role they play in regional communities. The project ran throughout 2016 and culminated in a season of contemporary arts events held in seven community halls across the Northern Rivers in late 2016. The featured international and locally renowned artists produced bold and captivating new works to activate the historic spaces giving new life and creating new memories for the halls and their communities.
Can You Hear the Whispering Walls showcases the work produced by local Yaegl woman and visual artist, Frances Belle Parker who transformed Eatonsville Hall through a large-scale immersive installation in October 2016 as part of the If These Halls Could Talk project.

Perched proudly on a hilltop overlooking the Clarence River, the Eatonsville Hall, situated in the middle of the village is a reminder of the colourful history of this picturesque location. Frances was inspired by the underlying Indigenous history of the area, which she paid homage to through her work in the hall. However, she says it was the importance of the hall as a meeting place, a place of celebration and a place of heartbreak (the hall was burnt down in 1925 and blown down in 1957) for the community that inspired the concept of her work.

Frances had this to say about gathering the information for her concept. ‘You hear all of these old stories about the small halls around the Northern Rivers but then you meet the community and get a greater sense of the passion that the community has for their hall. It’s like a whole new love story.’

Commissioned by Arts Northern Rivers, Frances Belle Parker’s evocative large scale immersive work is comprised of lengths of flowing fabric, imprinted with imagery and imbued with sound; mapping the land, the hall and the people of Eatonsville and surrounds.


IF THESE HALLS COULD TALK | Can You Hear the Whispering Walls is open at the Grafton Regional Gallery from March 29 – May 7. The exhibition, curated by Arts Northern Rivers, comprises the work of Frances Belle Parker, interviews and hall stories gathered by project media partner ABC North Coast; and photographic documentation by Jules Ober.


Grafton Regional Gallery, 158 Fitzroy Street, Grafton
Friday March 31 | 5.00pm