Hotel Esplanade presents O_C_E_A_N

O_C_E_A_N is a new festival of contemporary ocean art. Multidisciplinary works and conversations explores the unusual and timely ways we are connected to the ocean at the iconic Espy Hotel and St Kilda surrounds, Sunday 22 until Sunday 29 March 2020.

Conceptualised and programmed by Janenne Willis, the Espy’s Artistic Director, creative brain behind Swell and producer of the Melbourne edition of We’re All Going to DieO_C_E_A_N is Willis’ ode to the ocean featuring a range of visual, sound and performance artists, and scientists.

O_C_E_A_N sits at the intersection of two of my biggest loves; the ocean and progressive art. In curating the program of cross disciplinary artists, I have drawn on my life long experiences living by the sea, riding waves around the world and more recently sailing the open ocean. I’m fascinated by unexpected and relevant ways in which the ocean is basis for creative expression.  This festival is a lens into that,” says Janenne Willis.


Highlights of the week-long festival program include: 


Saturday 28 March, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.  Cost: $94.95

Originally created as part of Next Wave Festival, Surfing Painting is back in all of it’s outrageous and wonderful glory. A one-day adventure with Henry Jock Walk who will teach you how to paint whilst surfing. Yes, it is painting while surfing. Catching a wave and making marks using acrylic paint on paper while moving across the wave. All levels of surfing welcome.

Henry Jock Walker (SA) explores the possibilities of surfing, performance and painting through collaboration, and socially inclusive events. He uses his Toyota Hiace van as an ever-changing exhibition/studio/performance site and mobile core of operations for his national nomadic practice.



Friday 27 March, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Cost: $22.50

Created by Matthias Schack-Arnott, a Melbourne based percussive artist described by The Guardian as ‘visually and sonically exquisite’, Crest explores the urgency of the state of nature today through a mesmerising and unique musical set-up.

This one of a kind percussive performance features concentric circles of stone, tiles and shells that spin at rapid speeds, blurring rhythm and texture. The friction of cymbals against spinning wood creates searing overtones, augmented by cyclic doppler speakers to create a sonic whirlpool. The work is a place for reflection on how we each effect the balance of the world we inhabit.




Wednesday 25 March, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm | Saturday 28 March, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm (artist talk at 3:00 pm) | Sunday 29 March, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.  FREE

In addition to Crest, Schack-Arnott has collaborated with Megafun to create a free participatory installation. Tilt is a work realised through the movement of participant’s bodies as they move across the surface of a large scale ‘ocean drum’ – a 2.5meter drum containing 8000 ball bearings.



Sunday 22 March, 11.00 am – 2.00 pm + Sunday 29 March, 11.00 am – 4.00 pm.  FREE

Inspired by a series of noir photographs taken on a Victorian beach during the January 2020 bushfires, this interactive installation created by Liza Boston and Don William Bingemer challenges the viewer to confront the destruction of the idyllic experience of sitting on the beach as fire storms rage and fierce winds whip up smoke so thick you can no longer see.

Liza Boston is a writer, film maker and visual artist whose work explores human catastrophe, on the edge of extinction, in a climate emergency. In a climate-devastated world, Liza challenges herself and others to re-examine their personal narratives as we stare down the barrel of near-term human extinction.


Don William Bingemer is a painter from Cologne whose unique approach using diverse mediums designed to spark debate and deep consideration – such as acrylic on mirrors and other curious oil-based techniques. He currently lives and works in Melbourne.


Saturday 28 March, 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm (two sessions).  Cost: $22.50

This ocean sound walk is a guided experience drawing on movements in the sea both near and far.

The ocean is a complex acoustic environment, where marine life is reliant on sound to communicate and survive. The impacts of climate change are often very visible in terrestrial environments, yet dramatic changes in marine ecosystems are going unnoticed simply due to visibility. Increased anthropogenic noise and rising temperatures continue to cause unfathomable ecological disruptions that are dramatically transforming the acoustic ecologies of our oceans.

The Ocean Sound Walk uses an array of wireless headphones as the audience walks along the coast line listening to a live mix of underwater recordings from the East Coast of Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Marine Park.


Sunday 22 March, 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm.  Cost: FREE

A unique dance performance created by dancer Rebecca Jensen, and painter and sculptor artist Rafaella McDonald especially for O_C_E_A_N, playing once at St Kilda Beach.

Physicality and materiality spills from ocean vessels, plastics, backup dancing, surfing & stunt tumbling to form a material and bodily topography that is hopeful, imaginative and immediate. Part fictional hero, part alter-ego, part pop idol, Crystalline Surfer moves through waves, manipulating pre-determined patterns through subtle mutations, finding agency and imagination within repetition.


UNDER THE SEA (Kids Art Activity)

Sunday 29 March, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.  FREE

In partnership with Linden New Art, Under The Sea, is a free activity designed to harness young minds and creative imagination. While humans may never grow gills, it doesn’t seem entirely out of the question that we may one day be able to live under the sea. From floating cities to colonies on the bottom of the ocean, scientists and engineers have been thinking up all the ways it might be possible.

 For the full festival line-up go to

Tickets and info for all shows and experiences at