follow the water

Follow the Water
Follow the water 2018 fieldwork/performance/book art both/and
Artwork, image and photography © Perdita Phillips fieldwork
in collaboration with drains and walkers
dimensions variable
walking, listening, cyanotypes, algae, eventual book
Project: Follow the water 20182020 Albany, Western Australia

Current Project Status

Follow the water is a current (2018-) investigation of the drains and drainage of Albany (Kinjarling), Western Australia. On one side of the city, open stone drains are a feature of the colonial heart, and drain down to Princess Royal Harbour. On the back side of Albany, an extensive area of swampy ground was drained to make way first for cow paddocks, then (various) rubbish tips and now recreational grounds, houses and hobby farms. Yakamia Creek flows through these industrial/urban/fringe lands down into Oyster Harbour. Both Oyster Harbour and Princess Royal Harbour have had historical water quality issues associated with high phosphorus levels and eutrophication and consequent changes to their biological communities, as a result of catchment clearing for agriculture and past agricultural processing industries.

In previous work in the project I aimed to highlight the forgotten spaces of these drains and their problematic weeds, by taking people on walks along their courses, following the water. Creating situations for individual connection to these neglected spaces was a way of decentring the focus on humans and bringing in the nonhuman agency of ground and surface water, soil and stone, the anthropo-not-seen (de la Cadena, 2015).

My artistic research and the social practice outcomes to date, all point towards the complex web of colonialism, European land use practices and other forms of extraction. This ‘web’ of influences has become the conceptual leitmotif of the project.

2018 community walks:

You are invited to the Follow the water performative walking project

Walk with me for an hour tracing the path of water through urban and peri-urban Albany as it threads its way over, under and through human infrastructure. Find out about where water travels and why it is important to know this.

When: At a time convenient to you between 1-5 December or 10-16 December

Where: At an Albany drain near you!

How long: About an hour

What to expect: walking at an easy pace along paths or bush tracks that follow the many drains and ditches around Albany — imagining the path of water, listening to the world around you, talking watery thoughts and exposing a cyanotype print at the end of the walk based on your experience. You are welcome to bring your camera See more info here or use doodle to nominate your time

Contact to work out a time and place.

There will also be an open workshop session for those interested in experimenting with cyanotypes on Sunday 16 December 1-4pm See for more info and to book your place.

Perdita Phillips Artist in Residence at Vancouver Arts Centre 27 November to 20 December 2018 Follow the water is part of an ongoing series examining the importance of water as an active ecological agent and a metaphor of transformation in imagining environmental futures.