Watch and listen to the opening speeches below. Click to play.
Over successive Saturdays in August 2020, three groups of Canberrans braved our city’s cool, drizzly and, on the final weekend, outright drenching winter weather to spend an afternoon exploring their neighbourhood creek.
Led by an artist/curator, a waterways
or landscape expert and a local writer, each group learned about the history and ecology of, respectively, Weston, Jerrabomberra and Sullivan’s Creeks. As they walked along their waterway, participants used their cameras to tune their eyes to the world around them and document their experiences of these little-known and oft overlooked places.
At the conclusion of the photo-walks series, many contributed their images of their creek experience to the Water Walks exhibition, showing in the Manuka Arts Centre garden from29 August - 6 September, 2020.
PhotoAccess presented Water Walks as part of the Where You Are Festival, an innovative ACT Government (RISE Canberra) initiative re-thinking the idea of an urban festival in a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responding to the festival philosophy, Water Walks aimed to bring Canberrans together (safely) to discover and feel more comfortable in places we pass every day but rarely stop to really observe.
Participants created images that find beauty in the creeks’ complicated landscapes, acknowledge histories of devastation, wonder at the depth of Ngunnawal life in this land, notice alternative geographies and celebrate practices of care. In other words, tell stories of people and water in our city.
Water Walks came to life through the generous contributions of the team facilitating each walk. Along Weston Creek, I, as lead curator, was joined by water engineer and educator Hannah Edwards. Photographer Wouter Van de Voorde and historian Mark Butz led the Jerrabomberra walk. And artist Kate Matthews together with ecologist Fiona Dyer guided along Sullivan’s Creek.
Sullivan's Creek, 2020,
Canberra writer Cameron Muir was an invaluable contributor to the project, providing short introductions to each waterway (précised here in later pages), recording observations along the walks and producing a moving introductory essay.