Let us keep together

Monday 19 & 26 September 2011
Monday 3 & 10 October 2011
Hobart; Antill Ponds; Launceston

Project commission for Iteration:Again by Contemporary Art Services Tasmania (CAST)

Curator: David Cross


  • 4 x 9kg bundles Mercury newspapers (Antill Ponds)
  • Mercury newsprint day bills (Hobart and Launceston);
  • 4 x air drops by Cessna 172 Skyhawk (Antill Ponds);
  • 2 x International Signal Code flags 'I' and 'N';
  • Tasmanian Oak flag pole (Antill Ponds);
  • Mercury building flag pole (Hobart)

    Producer: Maddie Leach
    Pilot: Peter Rennie
    Dispatcher: Peter Fenton
    Flag pole construction (Antill Ponds): Guy Paramore
    Day Bills: Davies Brothers Pty Ltd / News Ltd

Supported by
Contemporary Art Services Tasmania
Davies Brothers Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of News Corp Australia

With thanks to
Rex Gardner, Bill Roe, Michael Price, Ian Webster & Damian Bester at the Mercury; Aero Club of Southern Tasmania; Guy Paramore, Sarah Jones, Lucy Rollins, Millie Mutimer, Fernando do Campo; David Cross, and Michael Edwards.

Iteration:Again was a series of thirteen public art commissions by twenty-two Australian and international artists that took place across Tasmania from September 18 – October 15 2011. Produced by CAST and David Cross, Iteration:Again presented temporary artworks in largely unexpected places throughout Hobart, Launceston and beyond.

Iteration:Again examined how it might be possible to introduce transformative elements that challenge the notion of a fixed or definitive artwork grounded in one location. By asking the artists to make four different chapters or ‘iterations’ of their project over the course of a four week period, Cross challenged each practitioner to think through how change or processes of transition may function to make the art experience an unstable and contingent one.

Let us keep together recognised the cultural role and lively resilience of two rival newspapers in Tasmania and their unique position as message bearers and agents of exchange. It acknowledged that both are part of long lineage of news delivery systems across the State. The project re-staged a long-forgotten event from 1919 when the Mercury newspaper tried to get the jump on their Launceston rival the Examiner. Showcasing the first commercial flight in Tasmania, the Mercury staged a highly theatrical drop of free papers from a small aeroplane along the length of the road between Hobart and Launceston early one Monday morning.

Let us keep together also revived the use of 'signal flags' as a historic means of line-of-sight communications between the two cities. When two semaphore lines were operational in the north and the south of Tasmania from the 1820s – 1850s, the Port Office in each city translated the received message into flags and flew them off a nearby masthead. Flags were always flown to indicate where a ship or vessel came from, what it was carrying, news that it brought and other messages.

For Iteration:Again, Maddie Leach worked between Hobart, Launceston and an almost unpopulated location named Antill Ponds – the exact halfway point on the road between the two small cities. Antill Ponds was formerly the site of the 'Half Way House' stage coach stop on the journey. In 2011, only a few of the hotel's foundations remained visible in a large open paddock.

Each Monday, for four weeks, identical flags flew atop the Mercury newspaper's building in Hobart and from a flagpole at Antill Ponds. Using historic semaphore code, their flags signalled the message 'Let us keep together'. Mercury newspaper day bills declaring the same phrase 'Let us keep together' were posted outside news sellers in both Hobart and Launceston. On each of those four Monday mornings, a Cessna flew from Hobart to Antill Ponds and dropped a bundle of that day's edition of the Mercury at the site of the Half Way House.

The dispatcher tried his best to aim the newspaper bundle at flagpole installed in the paddock below. Farmer Gavin Nicholas, who was the current owner of the land at Antill Ponds, would then come by on his four-wheeler to locate and collect the bundle.

Let us keep together


In 2011 Michael Edwards, Director of CAST, wrote four responses to the four iterations of Let us keep together. These are published in the book Iteration:Again – 13 public art projects across Tasmania edited by David Cross. The full e-book is available at Punctum Books.