Point Sturt

I have been invited by Lars Heldmann  to participate in a   project  of selected photographers who are being asked to respond to selected images in the  Godson Collection of the State Library of South Australia.  The project’s working title is called Our Waters,  and it is being driven by Lars Heldmann acting as a de facto curator.  This approach is one way to deal with the vastness and complexity of the Murray-Darling Basin.

It is early days:   the photographers are still to be selected;  no exhibition venues have been selected;  no grants have been applied for; and  no curators selected. It is envisaged that the exhibitions and the associated website would act as a hub for conversations about art, history and  the rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin. One possibility for the first exhibition  is 6 photographers responding to 6 images from the Godson Collection.

Whilst the project gets off the ground I have decided to kick things off by going back through  my archives to look at the images that I’ve made of the River Murray. This is Pt Sturt.

Pt Sturt
Pt Sturt

The Sturt Peninsula  juts out into Lake Alexandrina, which is one of the Lower Lakes near the mouth of the Murray River.  The Ngarrindjeri name for the end of Sturt Peninsula is “Tipping”, which meant “the lips”. This  picture was made in 2008, which was just  before the Millennium Drought broke and prior to the formation of the  Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

This was a period of low flows in the River Murray. Suzanne, the standard poodles and myself, had gone to Point Sturt as part of  exploring the area around the Lower Lakes.  I remember that it  was extremely windy that day and  we  wondered what the land would be like without the fresh water flowing through the Lower Lakes to the mouth.

At this stage it is unclear whether these  archival pictures of the River Murray, the Lower Lakes and the Coorong would form a part of the Our Waters project.  They may or may not be included.  One possibility is that the archival images –in the form of a blog– could become an associated  side project. Hence the Our Waters Our Country title of the blog.

I photographed the lake by standing on the cliffs over looking Sturt Point. The water has receded from normal lake edge by more than 200 metres and we were looking  at  the exposed lake bed. This area is this area is normally covered by 1.5m of water:

rocks at  Pt. Sturt
rocks at Pt. Sturt

I recall thinking that this  situation had been caused by both  the over-extraction of water in all the Murray-Darling Basin  states and the mismanagement of the system. This  had then  been exacerbated by the drought and not enough water being allocated to retain the health of the river system.

I may include some featured photographs  from the Godson Collection in the blog–to give a sense of  the visual history of representing the Basin’s rivers.  If I do so, then the photos  would  be ones that resonate with  me,  or have some connection to my  archival pictures.


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