I grew up in Hobart, Tasmania. Like many young people from Tasmania, I ultimately abandoned the island for the bigger cities on ‘the mainland’ of Australia.
In 2012, I was commissioned by Salamanca Art Centre in Hobart to make a work for their 35th anniversary. I used the opportunity to create Dear Hobart, Regards, The Expats, a participatory artwork that reflected on why so many Tasmanians leave the island.
Via an open call-out Dear Hobart invited Hobart expatriates to write a letter addressed to the city explaining why they left and whether they would consider returning. The letters were all signed ‘Regards, An Expat’, granting anonymity to the writers.
In April 2012 the letters received, penned by ex-Hobartians from around the globe, were clandestinely papered around Hobart’s streets and Salamanca Art Centre. Many of the letters submitted described Hobart as a pretty city let down by a parochial and insular attitude. They spoke of loneliness, isolation and a city that was lacking in opportunities and diversity.
A number of letters around Hobart and at Salamanca Art Centre were torn down or defaced within 24 hours of being put up.
For more information about the project see also:
dearhobart.wordpress.com (project blog)
Too comfortable? Some misgivings about the social turn in contemporary art (journal article that discusses Dear Hobart)