In Search of Lost Evenings is a sound installation of local stories about the 1940s, presented in the form of a vintage lounge room. Speakers are installed in the couch and the audience is invited to take a seat in the lounge and immerse themselves in stories of evenings past.
The sound is a collection of eight stories from elderly people, recounting their memories of evenings in their twenties. One story from each person is selected and edited, then professionally recorded by experienced storytellers. Each story is matched with a pertinent song or piece of music, lending an emotional and historical context to the reading. On the coffee table sits a photo album with photos of participants, other photos from the era, newspaper snippets and details of the music.
Each story is a complete vignette it itself, but when combined the collection forms a 45-minute audio that has a deliberately crafted contour, creating a journey in sound and music. Ranging from delightful and happy, such as evenings out skating and dinners with family, to the darker side of the night with stalkers and mysteries, and an array of life experiences in between, the installation takes listeners on a personal, historical and emotional journey through evenings past.
In Search of Lost Evenings is about recollections of important times. The stories are from residents aged in their 80s and 90s, whose hair may be faded and body failing, but the sparkle in their eyes comes alive when they talk about their youth. The installation presents their stories as the young and vibrant people they once were, for the audience to listen to without the cloak of old age clouding the narrative. The project has two central aims: to preserve these rich and interesting stories while it is still possible; and to share them with a wider audience in the community.
Participants in the Ballarat edition of the installation really enjoyed the project, both the story collection and the finished installation. There was also a lot positive feedback from their families, as well as from other residents and the wider community.
Look out for the Creswick edition in 2018.