WORDS BY AMY DAVIDSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JORGE SERRA OF THE SUPERLATIVE
Imagine the chaos and calamity of 30,000 festival goers fuelled by alcohol and bio-glitter at the annual Byron Bay festival of Splendour in the Grass. Now, picture a large, crisply painted white barn in the centre of it all. Inside it, the lights glow an eerie light pink. Mesmerised, you make your way over.
You surrender your drink at the entry and a curtain of calming and grounding essential oil scent washes over you. It’s a sensory trigger from your nose to your brain, telling you to slow down. Be here now.
Looking around, you see a multitude of organic vine-like shapes wrapped in yarn. They have been woven into balls and hang from the ceiling beams. Each section is colour themed with correlating essential oils diffused into the yarn. Seats embellished with the same colourful yarn border the outskirts of the space. As your eyes shift focus again you see a large metal sculpture in the centre of the barn, and around it people dressed in white roam around the space smiling peacefully at you.
The space was a rich extrasensory wonderland that engaged all the senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing, even movement. Dancers performed in the space twice a day, their movements echoing the winding process. A movement workshop was also offered to the public each day to encourage being present through slow movement.
The space, named ‘Hiromi Hotel’, was crafted to evoke healing and to encourage us to live slowly and mindfully. It was named after Hiromi Tango, an acclaimed Japanese-Australian artist who lives in Tweed Heads. Her art practice explores how our relationship with technology has changed drastically in just one generation. Her work investigates the effects that being constantly ‘plugged in’ is having on our brains, as well as our social connections in the physical world. Many of us live fast-paced lives where we’re encouraged to ingest a never-ending array of content on whichever social media platform we subscribe to.
The intention of Hiromi Hotel was to invite the community of Splendour in the Grass into a portal of slow time, and to collaborate on the sculpture at the centre of the barn, ‘Brainflower’.
Brainflower draws parallels between how our neural pathways are changing because of our constant technology use, and suggests that by being more present and connected with our lives we can begin to rewire more positive neural pathways. The growing of the brainflowers is a metaphor for reclaiming our brains back from technology.
I worked at the installation as a ‘Gardener’, AKA a workshop facilitator, and was able to witness people sitting down and sinking into a deep meditative state of making, their phones forgotten. Another positive impact of the installation I noticed was the organic connections formed between strangers. I had many nourishing and authentic conversations throughout the weekend that filled me with gratitude and peace. As we came together communally and mindfully to weave the brainflowers, they wove a common thread between us.