Guests sipped Rickety Gate wines and tapped toes to violin tunes by Hannah Klinac & Sophie Wolfer before taking their seats. Billy Wellstead, Manager of Library Services Albany, welcomed Fremantle Press’s Cate Sutherland.
Then Mike and Joy Lefroy took to the stage for some energetic semaphore flag-chatting – just as Fay Catherine Howe would have signalled to the ANZAC troops in King George Sound in 1914. But perhaps they would not have signalled, ‘Go, Girl’…
After their entertaining semaphore display, the Lefroy duo led the audience in an interactive group sharing of Morse code. Instead of dashes and dots, however, they managed to convince guests to emit long oohing, followed by short uh’s. And once again, the message we spelt was, ‘Go Girl’.
Visuals of modern-day Breaksea Island scenes followed, along with Dianne Wolfer’s explanation of the creative process. This included images of drafts and archival material that didn’t make it into the final draft (seaweed & maggots from the Great Southern etc). Dianne then thanked all those who helped bring Lighthouse Girl to fruition since she began the project in 2005.
Brian Simmonds was next on stage talking about his evocative charcoal illustrations. At least one illustration was sold during the launch and Brian’s artwork will remain in Albany on exhibition at the Singing Tree bookshop.
Don Watson gave an emotional speech, explaining how Lighthouse Girl has deepened his connection with his mother’s early years. Don’s daughter and a grandson joined him on stage and the audience broke into applause. It was a memorable and touching moment.
The formal proceedings ended with the projection of historical images onto a large screen. As soldiers, lighthouse keepers and troopships flashed across the stage, they were accompanied by the haunting strains of local singer-songwriter, Simone Keane’s Life’s Ocean. The lyrics so closely matched the images that many guests asked whether Simone had written the song especially.
And then the signing began…