The instructions Scot has given me to reach ‘The Rat Palace’ make me feel a bit like I’m about to enter a secret society. In fact, they’re necessary. The building itself is large but quite hidden, and I’m sneaking past church cars and construction signs to reach it.
It’s five-thirty on a Thursday night, and most of Hobart will be at home, listening to the inane chatter of a background TV and cutting up carrots to get started on dinner. These guys are smoking and creating. A couple of them have been there all day, the others have jobs and they sneak in and out – it’s a clear vibe from all of them though that this isn’t work. This is a place of experiment.
The Rat Palace has been variously inhabited by a number of Hobart’s artists since at least seven years ago. You can see the layers of paint on every surface of the place, making the room itself an artwork - like a massive scale version of a kindergarten marble painting. There is a history of risk trickling in multi-coloured blood down the walls - and it’s a history that Scot, Matt, Callum, Joel, Rob and Nicola are now part of. It doesn’t stop at this floor either, and downstairs local bands come in of an evening and practice. “The Frustrations play some nights,” Rob tells me. “Those are good nights to be here.”
For now, the CD player is playing Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Storm Coming’: I could paint a picture with a pen, but a song will only scratch the skin, and there’s still places I haven’t been, because I know what’s in there is already in the air.
Lyndon Riggall is a young writer and student, living in Hobart and studying English and Classical Literature at the University of Tasmania. He tries to divide his time equally between writing works for pure enjoyment, and for rigorous artistic worth, but often can't remember which pile is which.
Scot Cotterell's work is inter-disciplinary and concerned with responses to technology and media. His work uses sound, video, image and object to create environments that reflect upon cultural phenomena. His website can be found here.