An abstract view of Warrnambool's cinema history

Artist Bianca Hester (left) and Cinemas Project curator Bridget Crone at play on the site of Warrnambool’s old drive-in theatre.

Artist Bianca Hester (left) and Cinemas Project curator Bridget Crone at play on the site of Warrnambool’s old drive-in theatre.

BEHIND the former Mitre 10 building in Warrnambool’s west is a wasteland of concrete and weeds.

It’s a windy and uninspiring place where a food share truck groans into a loading bay a few times each week. 

Not much has happened at there since the Shandon Drive-In closed in the 1980s — but a small group of artists hope to evoke the outdoor cinema’s past, albeit in abstract form.

On a Friday afternoon three cameras are set up and six people with pensive expressions watch as metal hoops spin and lose balance.

The Shandon shut down in 1984. 

“This was one of the biggest drive-ins in Victoria. It had capacity for nearly 800 cars,” said Cinema Project curator Bridget Crone, who explained its genesis.  

“It came out of a series of trips I did with UK-based photographer Sam Nightingale, who is really interested in cinema history and looking for sites of lost cinema.” 

Ms Crone’s interest in cinema comes from the bygone era of newsreels and the time before televisions sets when communities descended on the theatres for news and entertainment. 

“For me it became important about how they could be reactivated.” 

The group has spent time filming at the Capitol Cinema, the old drive-in and the Liberty Cinema (now the central Coles supermarket) as well as four other places around Victoria. 

Artist Bianca Hester is behind the Warrnambool project. “What Bianca is doing is recording in a way the conditions of the site by spinning these steel hoops,” Ms Crone said. 

The activity creates an interesting wind chime effect echoing off the cold ground and  injects colour and life into the vacant site. 

“It would be quite boring if we were doing a big contextualising shot that showed the site as a waste ground,” Ms Crone said.

The visiting artists have also been supported by the Warrnambool Art Gallery.

Their film will be screened for the public in the Coles carpark at 6pm on July 4. 

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