Australia is the driest inhabited continent, we use more water per person than anywhere on earth. The Murray River (stretching 2530km from the Snowy Mountains on the New South Wales-Victoria border to the Southern Ocean in South Australia) personifies our problematic relationship with water; in less than 200 years, due to its low gradient and highly variable flow, the River has become a totally regulated irrigation system. In an attempt to develop and maintain crop and livestock industries the clearing of vegetation (notably River Redgum Forests) has increased pesticide content and salinity; population increase has resulted in stormwater and sewage pollution from the cities and towns along the River adding to the contamination of the water and resulting in a decline of fish and waterfowl populations. Today the federal management of the river is an almost impossible balancing act of controlled flows from locks and weirs into the river and into an intricate system of floodplains and wetlands - large algal blooms, high saline levels and degraded farming land has put the whole environmental system in jeopardy along with the livelihood of millions. In 2011 the government started work on the ‘Murray Darling Basin Plan’, it been the most divisive and contentious attempt at environmental regulation ever seen in Australia.
My work tells a story of the present-day Murray River through images of people, places and objects. The work centres around the term ANASTOMOSIS - a process, which describes the ancient and natural state of the Murray, by which the waters of a river intermittently rise and fall in a haphazard lacework fashion across vast plains. This rich image of a to-ing and fro-ing lacework pattern is used as a method for making a series of photographs about the River that acknowledges that storytelling works in this way too. Narratives in the real world rarely run from A to Z in an orderly fashion - there are moments of confusion, instances of retracing steps, periods of inaction, leaps ahead, excitement and mistakes. The work tells a story of the River as a web of personal experiences, digressions, layers, dead-ends, memories, truths, and fictions. The work creates a narrative guided by the qualities of the subject of the story - the River itself.