PIAF’s Before the Siren calls women to Fremantle Oval


Anna Dunnill, Liane Satie, Leala Burton, Stef Haward and Renae Coles. Picture: Jon Hewson d464929
Anna Dunnill, Liane Satie, Leala Burton, Stef Haward and Renae Coles. Picture: Jon Hewson d464929

PERTH collaborative duo Snapcat, Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill, have worked together for four years on projects with feminism a key theme.

So you can imagine their delight when the AFL announced 2017 would be the inaugural season for AFL Women’s (AFLW).

“It happened at a similar time to when the Matildas went on strike because they were getting paid a lot less than the men’s team, the Socceroos,” Coles said.

“There was a month or so when women in sport were making headlines, which doesn’t happen that often, and there was a feeling of a shifting of the sands in sport.”

Coles and Dunnill were prompted to start researching the history of women in sport when they were approached by Perth International Arts Festival to work on PIAF Commission Before the Siren with Melbourne artist Lara Thoms.

Currently based at Fremantle Arts Studio, the artists have been in a whirlwind of purple while creating the giant celebratory free event to be staged at Fremantle Oval at 6pm on Sunday, February 19.

“We’ve taken what we think are all the most exciting and spectacular elements of football and woven them together into a theatrical performance,” Coles said.

“There will be lots of banners, comedian Hannah Gadsby will be commentating, we have mascots, the Dockers cheer squad will be there, plus a sausage sizzle and free kid’s activities; we’re hoping it will be a lively, family-friendly event.”

Ten diverse women’s community groups will be part of Before the Siren, including the Red Hat Society, WA Roller Derby League, WA Embroideries Guild, Girl Guides and the Shirley Club, who are a group of women all named Shirley, many named after Shirley Temple.

“Each group will have a giant football-style banner with slogans on it that have come out of the interviews and workshops we’ve done with them; they will all have the chance to burst through their banners which are a lot more technical to make than you may think,” Coles said.

“The Butler Falcons football team will show off their skills and will be the ones with the actual football on the ground. We’ve put together some football choreography with hand-passing and marking to a timed routine.

“This is the launch of AFLW this year but women have been playing AFL non-professionally for over 100 years and that’s not something we really see images of.

“We want to showcase these communities and groups of women ranging from eight years old to those in their 90s who are doing really interesting, inspiring and empowering things that we don’t get to see very often either.”

Gates open at 5pm.