Complimentary Caravan connects the generations
Maldon Neighbourhood Centre’s Complimentary Caravan is challenging the stereotypes and disconnection that often exists between different generations, bringing together elderly residents and local school children to co-create a sound and visual arts presentation.
A $5,104 CARA grant, funded with the support of the Ian Rollo Currie Estate Foundation, allowed for a series of recording sessions in the Victorian Goldfields town. Primary school students and local elderly residents recorded audio compliments and created artworks in response. Then, at the Maldon Market day during the Maldon in Winter festival, locals could step inside the small, custom-built Complimentary Caravan and listen to the audio compliments from both generations.
Artist Rose Turtle Ertler facilitated the sessions, allowing both age groups to think about and consider the other generation involved - to contemplate how important each generation is and to enjoy thinking of a genuine compliment to give. Rose edited all these compliments into a short sound piece adding music from the students. Rose also worked with the students to create artworks responding to the compliments which were then be made up into a small booklet and showcased during the Easter Parade. Maldon Primary School students, along with Rose, later presented the books of compliments to elders at the Maldon Hospital.
The smiling faces coming out of the caravan after listening to the compliment soundtrack was a clear sign that people enjoyed the presentation. There were a couple of people moved to tears who thanked Rose for creating a thing of such beauty.
The success of the project reinforced that great outcomes can be achieved through intergenerational art-based projects. Both children and elders benefit from the interaction and relationship building from this type of project.