Logo Logo


Alana Blackburn

View Profile

Alana Blackburn is a professional recorder player based in Armidale, NSW. Alana performs experimental music, often with live electronics or soundscape, incorporating elements of improvisation.

Stage One

Tell us about the evolution of your concept through this creative development process.

Our response to the Regional Futures prompt of ‘‘What does the future look like for your region?” began with an early and unexpected connection between the childhood homestead of Australian poet and activist Judith Wright and the enduring themes of her work. In both the poetry and critique of Judith Wright, the immediate present is consistently gazed across warily to uncertain potential futures. Wright examined consequences of colonial and settler policy, the use of resources and ultimately the stewardship of the landscape. Unsurprisingly, matters that remain in the discourse of our region.

Discussing these topics has elicited ideas and issues specific to the New England region from experts and community members we have engaged with. What started with broad informal discussions on the background of certain geographic sites in the region have sharpened to inquiries on the management and issues surrounding the resources within.

This has allowed us to solidify the scope of our 2-part enquiry (1) how is the management of regional resources embedded in the future we envision, and (2) how can this be represented in an audio-visual output?

The sites we are currently working on preliminary sound and moving image are, Ottery Mine and tailings ponds near Emmaville, NSW; Bulugranda (Mt. Yarrowyck) and land reclaimed and purchased by the Newara Aboriginal Corporation; Springwood Property, Jeogla and Wallamumbi Stations; Beardy St Mall, fairgrounds; the former Teacher’s College and now home of the New England Conservatory of Music in Armidale, NSW.

What experts/community members did you connect with during your creative development?

The disciplinary experts invited to provide specialist knowledge and practices broadened our ideas on topics such as regenerative work, restoring life and re-engaging the population to listen to the environment when either rehabilitating or building upon land.

  • Theresa Choi, (GeoLink) – Environmental Scientist & Bushfire Consultant
  • David Howley,  Sr. Environmental Engineer & Soil Conservationist with expertise in infrastructure, land and environmental management. (GeoLink, Raven East, Natural Energetics)
  • Richard Braham,  Property Manager, Jeogla and Wallamumbi Stations
  • Friends of the Old Teachers’ College/NECOM Armidale, NSW
  • Armidale Regional Council members, Cr Brad Widders and Cr Paul Packham on the topic of urban/built environment resources

“Regional Futures addresses an integral part of creative projects,  to develop a concept in the company of contemporaries working on a similar theme.”

– Alana Blackburn & Mike Terry

Describe where your work has reached in the development process and how you can see it progressing.

At this stage in the project’s development our insights can be organised across two corresponding realms  – ‘Specific Knowledge of the Region’ and ‘Aesthetic and Creative Insights’.

Specific Knowledge of the Region
A deeper understanding of historical and current pastoral/cropping methods and practices. Issues surrounding the use/disuse/misuse of resources both natural and man-made in urban and rural environments. Current issues such as soil erosion, aquatic habitation, biodiversity, and water retention and how they are addressed by environmental infrastructure projects.

Aesthetic and Creative Insights
Captured sound and images from various sites to be included into the final work(s).  After creating test audio/visual pieces from site visits, we have solidified the characteristics of audio/visual output as well as how we position ourselves as creators of the work.  Determining the tone (implicit vs explicit) and scope of specific resources that are integral to accurately represent our envisioning of the Region’s future.

We are looking forward to fine-tuning the final output in terms of expanding from a single-channel video output to a multi-channel and/or live performance musical output.

If you were to tell someone about the impact of Regional Futures and this creative development opportunity on your practice, what would you say to them?

The Regional Futures project addresses an integral part of creative projects that is often missing from artistic practice, namely the opportunity to develop a concept in the company of contemporaries working on a similar theme. This fantastic opportunity where conversations and creative solutions about the future of our region with people from all over NSW can develop is a stellar example of what artistic and developmental collaboration can do.

As researchers, the discussions from different geographic areas have introduced us to new approaches to collecting data and presenting it in creative ways. This development opportunity has allowed us to experiment with different approaches to collecting and presenting sonic designs/evocative imagery to provoke discussions about the future of the New England.

Publications Fill 1 Copy 4 Created with Sketch.

Blackburn, Alana (2022), ‘The Armidale Symphony Orchestra: The ecology of a regional orchestra’, in Musical Ecologies, Instrumental Music Ensembles Around the World, Leon De Bruin & Jane Southcott (Eds), Routledge (Chapter 11)