Week 8/2024: Sandstone and dancing

Week of 19 February 2024

I had another busy weekend, doing some cool activities


Open House Richmond was a one-off Open House organised to fit in with Richmond’s bicentenary celebrations running from December 2023 to March 2024.


A sobering but important part of this is the Mumirimina: People and Country Exhibition at Richmond’s Courthouse.

The exhibition acknowledges that the town was built on the land of the Mumirimina, who were part of the Oyster Bay Nation. It observes that, within 15 years of British occupation, it is unlikely any Mumirimina people were left on their land.

The exhibition features “12 reproductions of artworks depicting the people and stories of lands stolen and lives ruined by the colonial settlement of the town”.

You can find out more about Mumirimina people, including the people featured in the exhibition, here.

It’s confronting to consider that the town, the activities of this weekend, and even my own presence in this land, is only possible because of what happened to the Mumirimina and other Tasmanian Aboriginal people. I recognise the continuing connection of Tasmanian Aboriginal people to the unceded lands and waters of lutruwita and pay my respects to elders past and present.

Open House

Lil Sis and I have been to many Open House Hobart weekends. Every year, we say to each other, “we should volunteer next year,” and next year comes around and we get so excited and book into so many things we run out of time to volunteer. So when we heard about Open House Richmond we decided to put our hands up to help out BEFORE we knew what was on the program.

Clever, huh?

We got an email from the amazing Katie at Open House HQ, asking us whether we had any relevant skills we could bring to the weekend. I said my special skills were taking photos of modernist buildings, and drinking coffee.

Oh, and holding a clipboard.

Barb is standing outside a white wooden building with a red poster bearing the words 'Open House Richmond'. Barb is wearing a red t-shirt, a blue skirt, a black cap and she is holding a clipboard
Clipboard goal met!

Based on this, we were put on clipboard holding duties at the St John the Evangelist Church precinct, which includes the church, the old Catholic school house and (be still my beating heart!) the 1959 presbytery building.

An old sandstone church surrounded by vegetation
St John The Evangelist Catholic Church

Following the briefing and breakfast (which involved coffee), we picked up our fashionable Open House t-shirts, our clipboards and signs, and made our way to the church for our three-hour shift.

I allocated Lil Sis to the church so I could stand outside the school house and look at the presbytery.

An old yellow building with a red roof and a pitched roof above the door
Old School House (1843)

Our role was pretty simple. We had to tally the number of people entering the buildings and get their postcodes (you’ll know this drill if you’ve ever been to an Open House). There were also history buff volunteers inside the school house to answer any questions visitors might have.

The presbytery wasn’t open because it’s the priest’s home, but people were invited to walk around the outside during their visit to the precinct.

A modernist building in light yellow with red highlights
The presbytery

Of course, it wouldn’t be Tasmania without finding a connection somewhere. It turns out one of the school house volunteers not only knew the tiny place where my grandparents had lived but knew the family they bought their store from in the 1960s.

Because Tasmania.

I had a great time, and got a special bonus job of telling people how to access the toilet.

And speaking of toilets (great segue), the public amenities block at the bus station was also on the Open House Program.

A grey brick wall at the front of a public toilet, which has a timber panelled wall inside
Richmond amenities block

Obviously, this wasn’t a building where someone was standing out front and taking down people’s postcodes as they went in. But it was touted as an example of ‘contemporary architecture within a historic setting’ It was commended in the 2004 and 2005 Tasmanian architecture awards, which observed

“This building deserves recognition because it seeks to contextualise, within an historic setting through means other than imitation of historic forms. It is a well-considered approach, which reworks components of the familiar without pastiche. It also provides an innovative plan for an often maligned building type.”

Often maligned, but oh so necessary.

Thanks to Open House for making this weekend possible and for the opportunity to take part. I have many more photos so stay tuned for a post on my photoblog in the near future.

Dance Ten, Looks Three

The other thing I did this weekend—because one day out isn’t enough—was a workshop called Choreo In Performance by Michelle Williams of House of Dance.

Held at the Peacock Theatre, it was the first in a series of ten workshops being presented this year by my friends at Pepperberry Theatre.

Formerly a musical theatre performer, Michelle is now highly regarded dance teacher and choreographer. I’m sure she had her work cut out for her when she took on a group of actors and acting students in this workshop.

A woman in a black dress sitting on a stool on a black stage, with a rock wall in the background
Michelle giving us some movement tips

The main focus was on movement, but with a dance element. So it’s not an understatement to say I was well out of my depth—both mingling with actors and taking on dance-based movement.

How fascinating!

I loved it.

I wish I’d taken some notes because there was a lot to take in!

We had fun with some dance moves and a lot of improv from several different musicals, and even some Fosse moves.

I had to google this later. Bob Fosse is only the most famous choreographer ever. (Just check this out if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Also, watch what the dancers in high heels do with their feet.)

It was a fun day and I’m looking forward to taking some of the other workshops later in the year. My acting classes aren’t happening this year so these will be great while I decide what my next steps are.

Week 8 summary

Habit tracker

  • 9.30 shutdown: 5/7 days
  • 8,000 steps: 5/7 days
  • 25 minute timer setting: Not happening consistently

What was the best thing about this week?

Open House was a wonderful day of photography. And getting out of my comfort zone to do the choreo workshop was also pretty amazing!

What did I notice this week?


A blue, cloudy morning sky with a mountain in the background and buildings in the foreground
kunanyi from Kelly Street

And this.

an empty, deserted room with chipped paint on the right side wall, and an open door leading into another room. There is a heart-shaped large chip on the back wall, revealing some red bricks

What did I learn this week?

I learned that the Robert C Weaver Building in Washington DC was built for the Department of Urban Development and Housing in 1968.  It’s a brutalist building designed by Marcel Breuer (1902-1981), a modernist architect and furniture designer, who was born in Hungary.

Robert C. Weaver, was the first African American member of the Cabinet and the first Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The building features as the “Russian Embassy” in the movie Burn After Reading, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its exceptional architectural significance.

I’d forgotten how good that movie is. I rather like Liam Gaugan’s conclusion that it “satirises a powerful institution by revealing that its infrastructure is run by simplistic people with childish ambitions and a startling amount of incompetence”.

What I’m reading this week

  • A Girl Called Corpse by Rees Carter
  • The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
  • Undersong by Hilary Burden
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