The Ghost Show featured six leading contemporary artists responding to folklore that the Hazelhurst cottage is haunted.
The selected group of artists all undertook onsite residencies and were introduced to the story of Ben and Hazel Broadhurst, the couple who built the cottage and lived there until their deaths. Their generous property bequest to Sutherland Shire Council led to the birth of Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre in 2000.
The artists were asked to respond in some way to this specific local haunting as a starting point for the development of an artwork that also reflected the concerns and methodologies of their own practice as artists.
Kate Murphy, known for an accomplished video practice that encompasses documentary and portraiture, made contact with Dix during her residence at the gallery. A dedicated dog trainer and palmist, Dix developed a close bond with Ben and Hazel that resulted in her retiring to nurse the Broadhursts in their late years so they could die at Hazelhurst. Murphy's video portrait of Dix and her beloved dog Jesse acted as a ballast for The Ghost Show, by giving voice to Dix's knowledge, experience and insight about Hazelhurst, psychic phenomena and dogs.
Eugenia Raskopoulos brought her own dogs to Hazelhurst during her residence, hoping they would sniff out the spiritual energy of the cottage. The video Waiting for Lass depicted standard poodles Astro and Stellar nosing around, mapping out 'dog choreography' of to and fro movement in the space.
The barking dogs heard in Raskopoulos's video were not to be confused with what is heard in the work of Robyn Backen. Several Bakelite telephones were configured on the floor of the gallery space in front of a mirrored surface, suggesting a distinction between what is real and reflected. One of the vintage phones was left off the hook with a kind of 'dog talk' emanating from the receiver - a human approximation of an unknowable dog language that simultaneously conjured the spirit of Lass and the links between the telepathic and telephonic. For Backen, the medium is the message as much as the medium brings the psychic message from the "other side" of the mirror.
After learning of speculation that dead children haunt Hazelhurst, Daniel Kojta brought a medium to the cottage who verified their existence. Based on this experience, Kojta's video installation, Dancing naked, with chance in the corner of my eye, explored the burden of a buried past on the present, which by implication implies the relationship absence shares with presence.
Matt Glenn created a three-panel work A Secret History (Self, Other, Passage) that mixed supernatural and religious themes with Edmund Burke's idea of 'the sublime' as psychological state teetering on the precipice of this world and the next.
The passage to the sublime hereafter was channelled for Wade Marynowsky through sound. Phantom of the rock eisteddfod, the tri tone is a darkly humorous installation of plywood shards painted in glitter caked black gloss enamel and ominously scored to the sonic frequencies of the 'tri tone'.
Ultimately, the artists in The Ghost Show presented artworks that tuned into the strange frequencies of paranormal, spiritual, real or imagined hauntings that continue to fascinate and compel over time.
Image: Wade Marynowsky & Daniel Kojta, Preparing for the spirit world (detail), 2010, production still. Courtesy of the artists.