River Pulse (Loddon)

This idea came from visiting some fabulous rivers in Tasmania and Switzerland . I thought of creating a project where the river has a kind of voice , a creative agency to put something before us in a cultural way. I was inspired by the decision taken in New Zealand to give legal entity status to the Whanganui river, in order that it may be protected into the future - and if necessary fought for.

This project offers a voice to a river, to make a statement in the cultural realm of art. As the wet weather of a the recent Triple La Niña climatic oscillation gives way to the oncoming El Niño dry climate event, River Pulse documents this transition on a stretch of the Upper Loddon river. 

It is my hope that some sense of genius loci, spirit of place, and the feeling of the river comes through this body of work. 

Following the momentous decision taken in New Zealand 2017 to endow legal entity personhood status to the Whanganui River, many other countries have adopted similar protections to their own rivers. At its beautiful, pulsing and clear state in Glenlyon, the Loddon River most definitely shows us that it has an environmental role, a personality and alot of character deserving recognition.

In an active flow of the upper Loddon, the River Pulse drawing instrument is tethered to River Callistemon (Callistemon Sieberi). Floating on a camouflaged inflatable SUP (stand up paddle board), the twin water turbines are always kept at a constant working depth to provide driving power to the two drawing mechanisms. 

Drawings are set up and allowed to accumulate marks for varying lengths of time – from around 15 minutes to 15 hours. Water from river splashes, mists and rains are allowed to play on the inks and pigments; the pens strike stones used as paperweights; over night they eat through the heavy watercolour paper .

Some drawings are classic black pigment ink on white paper. Some of the watercolour paper was coloured in the studio using blue black and inks and metallic pigments, giving high contrast flowing grounds for the silver, gold, white and coloured inks of the pens.

Full River Pulse video 6:35 sec , on site at Glenlyon, Victoria Australia
the River Message drawing instrument in the Loddon river at Vaughan, Central Victoria, Australia

Below is the installation in stockroom gallery, Kyneton Australia

The first drawing to come off the new machine – about 2 hours of River energy, ink on watercolour paper, 76 x 76 cm