Water Project (2019)

Water (H 20) has three states, solid (ice), liquid (water) and gas (water vapour/steam). It is extremely versatile and can be boiled to high temperatures then frozen, it can dilute and extinguish, replenish and burn, evaporate and erode, carry people and viruses, be salt and fresh.

Water is very valuable, yet it is not very valued. Without water there would be no life. The experience of our impact on the environment, and water in particular is predominantly experienced out of our body, seen from afar and in our mind. We only tend to think about our own personal use of the visible water we drink, or shower in, not the invisible water used to make the cloths we wear, the paper we write on, the pieces of technology we use, the latte we drink and more. 

How much water does each of our lives cost?  

These wearable pieces made out of ice, creak, crack and break or melt and evaporate into invisibility, challenging the wearer’s notion of and relationship to water. Reminiscent of diamonds, these pieces emphasise the increasing value of water due to its current and predicted future scarcity due to climate change.

When worn the pieces serve as a reminder of the impact of water on us potentially burning, cooling and replenishing, and once the water has disappeared the body is marked and aches in its wake, providing a stronger sense of the fleeting existence of water, and our impact on it. Referring to the current Anthropocene epoch, when human activity has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment. 

Ideally I see these pieces at different locations and sites accompanying initiatives focussed on climate change like CLIMARTE Festival, a hidden waterway walking trail, an exhibition or a community garden day for the individual to experience.

This work is an experiment in participatory practice that focuses on connecting audience members physically back to their impact on the climate and value of water, emotionalising it. 

Workbook (online version)

Idea 1 - Hidden Yarra Glacier Trail

This idea was inspired by glaciers, in particular Skaftafellsjokull a glacier tongue spurting off from Iceland's largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. This glacier can be walked, visitors can explore ice caves, canyons and waterfalls and more. I found it quite beautiful and also amazed that we are allowed to walk through these beautiful glaciers in this national park. 

I gravitate to the size, the spectacle and beauty of the work. Imagining walking through a sculpted landscape that represented a hidden waterway trail from centuries ago really interested my. Physically how would it feel when the wind blew, touching the ice, hearing it crack. Also the durational element of it melting and seeing what was left behind. Did the ice burn and kill patches of grass and water others? Would a trail be left behind imprinted into the ground? 

Site: Multiple locations however the first I thought could be Birrarung Marr, on the Yarra River’s north bank next to Federation Square.

Water: The water ideally would be taken from the Yarra River next to Birrarung Marr. 

Challenges: All the logistical and material challenges for this idea as well as risk. The amount of energy (electricity) and water required for the project and installation is huge and the potential for the ice to crack and injure participants experiencing the work is very high. 

Idea 2 - Wearable Ice

This idea developed from the challenges of the first but wanting to retain the physical and participatory element that brought it back to the body. Would the ice burn, cool, be nice or uncomfortable, look ugly, melt fast or not? 

I thought these pieces would be reminiscent of diamonds. Diamonds themselves are referred to as ‘ice’ because they are ice-cold to touch, look like ice crystals when they are a pure diamond and they also have the capacity to conduct heat like ice, when touched they come up to body temperature quickly.

Site: Multiple sites but I thought music festivals, gardening days and climate focused events. 

Idea 3 – Icy Poles

Made from the water from the site chosen, for instance the Yarra River these icy poles invite you to eat them however due to the water that was used would you? Thoughts on clean water, the Yarra’s pollution, and forbidden fruit. 

I like the idea of hanging them from a tree next to where the water was collected for the icy poles, watering the tree but also catching the light, dripping and blowing in the wind or smashing together. Picking fruit from a tree.  

Site: Multiple locations however the first I thought could be Birrarung Marr, on the Yarra River’s north bank next to Federation Square.

Water: The water ideally would be taken from the Yarra River next to Birrarung Marr. and icy pole hung from a tree on the riverbank. 


Olafur Elisson - Sculpture and large-scale installation art 

Ice Watch 2014, Bankside,Tate Modern, London 2015

Olafur Eliasson installed 100 tones of free-floating, glacial ice from the waters oft he Nuup Kangerlua fjord in Greenland. The ice had separated from its larger sheets and was discovered melting into the ocean.

It is so far away Greenland,it’s literally out of our body and its in our brain and I wanted simply to change that narrative of the climate from our brain and emotionalise it into our bodies. Eliasson 2015

Serves as a visual reminder and a movement for change of the impact of climate change on the environment and specifically the melting ice caps in Greenland due to global temperatures increasing more than one degree celsius since 1896discovery of the greenhouse effect. 

I like the physical spacial element; it suddenly gives a stronger sense of the climate and affects right up close so you can literally see the Greenland ice caps melting. I also like the sensory aspects of the piece also – you can smell it, touch it, kiss it, lick it essentially touch and taste.

Latai Taumoepeau - Live Art, Performance Artist

Ocean Island Mine 2015

A woman, 1 tonne of ice, a shovel, and the steady walk from point a to point be and back and forth, she works the open-cut mines of the past into the future of climate change; excavating the solid white rock into invisibility. 

My work relates not just to the use of ice but to the physical and durational elements. The wearable water pieces are painful to wear, take time to disappear, and leave a residue.  

Latai Taumoepeau is a Punake, body-centered performance artist; her story is of her homelands, the IslandKingdom of Tonga and her birthplace, the Eora Nation – Sydney, and everything far and in-between. Latai activates Indigenous philosophies and methodologies;cross-pollinating ancient practices of ceremony with her contemporary processes& performance work to re-interpret, re-generate and extend her movement practice and its function in and from Oceania.

Amy Sharrocks - Live Artist, Sculptor, Filmmaker and Curator

Walbrook, 2011

Amy collaborated with a dowser, to re-mapped one of London’s oldest rivers in a participatory art piece. Londoners, tied together at the waist walked the pavements of London, tracing the course of the buried Walbrook River from its source in Islington to its mouth at the River Thames. It attempted to reclaim, highlight this body of water and provoked different understandings of the landscape.  

I think wearing the water pieces on say a tour of Melbourne's hidden waterways for instance down the Yarra River, now Elisabeth Street, connecting to streams like Bouverie Creek and Dixon Patten’s creek pattern on the University of Melbourne. Refer to The Living Pavilion activation. 

Sharrocks practice focusses on creation with the public. She invites people to come on a journey, exploring the theme of water and the landscape, to contribute and help create the artwork through performance and participation in a live public space context. 

Water: Interdisciplinary public forum

24 May 2019 — 25 May 2019
Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne 

I worked on an interdisciplinary forum engaging people on the theme of water. Through discussions, lectures, performances and art we explored waters significance in a range of areas including climate change, river rights and sovereignty, customary song, water policy, and the ocean as a border crossing site.

Speakers were experts in law, geography, chemical engineering, criminology and literature from the University of Melbourne will join a range of visual artists, performers and curators. 

Image of Artist Hoda Afshar, Remain 2019, video screening.

Making, Testing and Physical Experience

Materials and process: It was quite difficult to make these objects. I made a few different moulds using liquid latex reinforced with chux and also plasticine. Both of these failed.

I found some plastic trays for watercolour paints the best option to test working with water and ice and found necklace chain and links to create 7 pieces for the participants in class to wear. 

Size: I made smaller pieces to begin with that took about 10 minutes to disappear entirely. The bigger pieces were the best and most challenging to wear as they were extremely cold and being winter my body temperature dropped considerably and took a long time to get warm again. 

Physicality: They were initially uncomfortable and painful to wear but then I became used to it and started to feel each droplet. In the end however I became extremely cold and my skin was red and ached. This is what I had hoped for, the aching body feeling of the water lasting long after it had disappeared. 

I believe in the dead of summer it you would have a different lighter experience and they would refresh, cool and replenish our bodies more.  

Sound: While wearing the necklaces you could hear the ices cracking and squeaking an added sensation and I found myself focussing on listening to them to see if I could make out when the next one would break and drop off.  

Idea Development

Research: Anthropocene - relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment - the current Anthropocene epoch. 

Energy and waste: The element of creating a piece about water that ultimately wastes water makes me feel a significant amount of dissonance. If I was to create these further I would test how much energy goes into making them and if there are sustainable ways to create these. 

Weight and size: I would like to make people wear the equivalent of the glacier part that is out of the water. Reserach into the percentage of glacier outside (wearbale water) to the part underneath the water (body). 

Wearable items/objects: Consider other objects as accessories like a ball and chain to drag around clasped to your ankle. 

Events, activations and location: Further investigation into different types events and activations I could submit to include the work. 

Quantity: How many I can make and what I will need. Mobility, energy, water, freezer, moulds. 

Costs: Very low cost at this stage but produced in larger quantities, more moulds and traveling to location and the equipment required will increase costs.

Using Format