Hundreds of bottles featuring anonymous letters, poems, love notes and more will soon adorn the ImaginArts space of the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery as part of a community project called Message in a Bottle.
Long before emails, text messages and phone calls became a way of life, people had different and unusual ways to communicate.
One unique method of sending a message was inside a corked bottle tossed into the ocean waves.
Naturally, the intended recipient was unknown as there was no guarantee that the glass vessel, or message contained inside, would survive the journey.
Notably this technique has been used to send distress messages, in crowdsourced scientific studies of ocean currents, as memorial tributes, to send deceased loved ones' ashes on a final journey, to convey expedition reports and to carry letters or reports from those believing themselves to be doomed.
As a nod to the tradition of sending a message in a bottle out to sea in traumatic times, with the hope of someone finding your SOS, Bundaberg Regional Art Galleries' staff are asking the community to get involved and contribute to the project.
The glass bottles, being collected from community and local organisations, will be used as containers for people to tell their stories anonymously.
It is hoped that the project is to be able to provide a safe space where people can be vulnerable, bringing into focus that “you are not alone in feeling alone”.
From 31 March to 27 August 2023 residents and visitors alike are invited to add their own message to a bottle.
Bundaberg Regional Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said each message would be placed in a bottle by the author, never to be read again.
“During the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery large-scale installation, you are invited to contribute and engage with the work by creating a message in a bottle,” he said.
“Participants can express everything from fears, concerns, feelings, notes to self, messages to loved ones and more.
“Anything you want to share, get off your chest or words you simply want to play with are all welcome.”
Cr Learmonth said Message in a Bottle was as much of a therapeutic process as it was an art project.
“The scale of the messages and bottles will help visitors feel a sense of connectedness and understanding that there are plenty of people out there who have their own personal stories to share,” he said.
“Today, we need these powerful reminders that we all have more in common than we think.
“The power of this project is that it captures our thoughts, feeling and emotions and adds them to a bottle to become their very own time capsules.”
How to get involved:
The Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery will be collecting large clear glass bottles (approximately 750ml) until the end of March, call 07 4130 4750 for more information.
Message in a Bottle will be a working, collaborative community project held from 31 March to 27 August.
The community can add a message to a bottle during this time by visiting the installation at the gallery in Bundaberg at 1 Barolin Street.