The 2022 Natimuk Frinj Biennale was a do-over of the cancelled 2021 Frinj. Director Hannah French and committee had made the call to postpone the previous year’s festival due to concerns about public safety in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

The 2022 incorporated many aspects of the 2021 program and introduced new elements. The program had 66 individual shows and events over the weekend of 28th, 29th and 30th October.

Despite a program that in the last days was impacted by flooding, sickness and other difficulties the Nati Frinj again demonstrated that is an important regional festival.

Greg Pritchard took on the role of 2022 Frinj Director, working closely with Production Manager (and ACT Natimuk General Manager) Tracey Skinner, Volunteer Co-ordinator Lauren Urquhart, the ACT Natimuk board and an excellent group of volunteers to deliver a program of innovative entertainment.

For the first time the festival included some of the work created through the ACT Creative Lab program, including Kat Pengelly’s community engagement spectacular Truck, Sam Burke An apology that was never asked for, in collaboration with local artist Dave Jones, and Jacqui Schultz’s bespoke performance Very Long Distance. The festival also had a Creative Lab launch event with other artists involved talking about the process and their work.

The breakdown of events is as follows:

Bamboo Exquisite was a huge bamboo structure built in the days leading up to the festival. It was the site for circus, slackline and silk workshops, and the venue for Saturday night’s performance with projections onto the silo sound score, circus skills, silk performance, dance and high-line walking.

It reasserted Natimuk’s premier position in the history of bamboo construction, and continued the legacy of bambuco and Simon Barley.

It was also one of the largest legal urban highlining events in the history of that activity in Australia.

The performance elements were put together by previous Frinj festival director Kate Finnerty and choreographer Abby Watkins, with Y Space Jillian Pearce as consultant. The tower was built by Natimuk’s own vertical access company, Nati Access.

It’s accompanying work, Forest, (a forest of vertical bamboo) was a place of reflection for the weekend with a beautiful nuanced sound scape by the festivals sound artist in residence Russel Goldsmith.

In the Barley Shed, Nancy Black’s, Black Hole Theatre, produced Someone in the Dark, an interactive Wotjabaluk Story written by Tracey Rigney, in a sewn dome (with 180 degree projections by Dave Jones, score by Dave Franzke.

All up there were:

  • 5 theatre shows, and 20 performances
  • one locally produced hybrid event with projection and music
  • 10 visual art exhibitions and installations, including a local artist pop up market
  • over 10 musical performances – of which three were by local musicians
  • 10 workshops and classes – 9 of which were locally produced
  • a film program and several outdoor projection moments.
  • a book launch about Climate Change

And as always, random unprogrammed events which are a main stay of the Frinj ethos.

Images: Michelle MacFarlane – Bamboo Exquisite, Bridget Hillebrand Surge and below, by Suzanne Phoenix.