a w a s h

a w a s h  is a large-scale, mixed media assemblage that exhibits the recent and severe coastal erosion of the Eastern Australian, Newcastle coastline during and after the 2022 floods. The assemblage includes three components – still image, video and sound produced from experiential (empirical), location based material gathered onsite at the Newcastle Beach coastline and in a health facility in Pokolbin.

This project has been developed during a Venezia Contemporanea residency program at La Storta Exhibition Space for two weeks in October 2023. The location of the residency is a 500 year old renaissance bottega La Storta, which is one of the most authentic exhibition spaces in Venice in the Old Ghetto. This year’s Program runs in parallel with the Architecture Biennale di Venezia 2023. More information on the artist’s residency can be found here.

Three minute excerpt of the assemblage soundtrack

Location video footage of Newcastle Beach, NSW Australia

Video of the Pokolbin Sauna

In this work I am engaging with the consequences of the climate crisis we are facing due to the ‘now inevitable’ major sea-level rise caused by the melting of the Greenland ice cap. I have a long connection with Newcastle and as a climate advocate I identify with the consequences of this crisis occurring most recently in (what has been) my own back yard.

Damian Carrington, the Environment editor for the Australian edition of the Guardian has written that, “Major sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable, scientists have found, even if the fossil fuel burning that is driving the climate crisis were to end overnight. The research shows the global heating to date will cause an absolute minimum sea-level rise of 27cm (10.6in) from Greenland alone as 110tn tonnes of ice melt. With continued carbon emissions, the melting of other ice caps and thermal expansion of the ocean, a multi-metre sea-level rise appears likely”. 

The full article can be found in the Australian edition of the Guardian, 29 August 2022 News Website

The Still Image Component

The visual component for this project will include eight canvas panels that display aspects of the rock, marine life, marine flora and the ocean bed at low tide, shifting over a two and a half year period from around August 2020 to January 2023. These still images have been digitally processed and printed onto canvas so that individual sections of the marine life and flora can be assembled and re-worked using the techniques of collage, pencil drawing and acrylic painting.

The depletion of sand from the beach during these floods uncovered a large portion of previously unexposed rock and marine flora, which has formed the basis to a number of the canvas panels that will be assembled for this project. 

The dimensions of all eight panels include 4 panels at 900mm x 600mm (3600mm L), 2 panels at 750mm x 600mm (3000mm L), and 2 panels at 450mm x 600mm (900mm L). 

To display all eight panels side by side a wall space of approximately 6m long is required. An additional 1.2m length of wall space is required to display three video monitors within the canvas panels. The total wall space required to comfortably display this work is approximately 7.2 – 9m in length. There are no height requirements.

The eight still image panels include:

Panels 1-3. Rock Pattern, ocean bed rock – Newcastle Beach
Panels 4-6. Rock Pattern, Sea bed, Marine Life & Flora – Newcastle Beach
Panels 7-8. Marine Flora & Rock – Newcastle Beach 2022

The Video Component

The eight canvas panels and two sound cabinets are connected on either side and in the middle by 3 video screens projecting looped video shot on the eastern Newcastle coastline and in a spa in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley of NSW, Australia. The video component brings an added contrast conceptually to the work displaying moving image of a human made spa alongside moving image of human induced climate change. Juxtaposing an environment built to experience good health and comfort from mineral-rich spring water to an environment devastated by the rise of the sea level and flooded coastal regions – human pleasure versus global pain.

Extreme Right and canvas panel & LCD Monitor video still

Extreme Left canvas panel & LCD Monitor video still

Centre Left canvas panel & LCD Monitor video still

Centre Right canvas panel & LCD Monitor video still

The Audio Component

Example six and a half minute assemblage soundtrack

The assemblage will include a series of soundtracks to highlight and sonically wash the captured marine life’s flora and fauna out to sea. These simple but profound soundtracks deliver a countdown to the potential end of life as we know it living by the oceans of the shores we love to inhabit.

The a w a s h sound component is an audio re-mix in the style of electronica & ambient / soundtrack. It takes its name from the algorithmic processing of location sound recordings taken in Newcastle, a large town on the eastern Australian , NSW coastline. The unusualness of the sound of water is in the remix of added rhythmic synthesis found in their duration, pitch and timbre and the sonic playfulness that is reproduced in their cross talk and ocean song, along with an array of other sounds.

The sound is produced to drift in and out of your listening consciousness (as listenable to, as it is not) and to become part of the environment within which it is heard, in this case the indoor exhibition spaces of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and/or The Lock-Up in Newcastle.

Micro-electronic audio components housed in 2 small cabinets will trigger the soundtracks designed to accompany this largely visual assemblage. There are three varying soundtracks in each cabinet individually triggered depending on the distance the cabinet is approached from. Adding a spontaneous element to the assemblage, each time it is approached it is likely that it will broadcast a different soundtrack. The audio can be heard either via wireless headphones or an in-house speaker/amplifier system.

The sound cabinets are 320mm H x 160mm W by 120mm D. They are painted, wooden, open-backed enclosures that house an Adafruit Music Maker Mp3 Shield on an Arduino Uno R3. They are triggered by an Ultrasonic Distance Sensor HC-SR04.

The Sound Cabinet