Clean, healthy waterways matter to all of us, yet too often we take for granted the ones that flow through our midst. This dilemma inspired local artist Hanna Kay to consider ways in which the local community could better understand and appreciate the geological, biological, historical and cultural importance of the Pages River in the Upper Hunter, NSW. The river is not just a major tributary of the Hunter River. It is a waterway of integral importance to future generations.
The enthusiastic response to the project has led to new activities to further realise the project’s dream. First anniversary’s celebrations in 2008 included a photographic exhibition and a presentation of a draft design for Bridge to Bridge – a nature walk, approximately 2 km along the riverbank in Murrurundi.
The vision for the Pages River centres on the development of a River Walk from bridge to bridge in the township of Murrurundi. The proposed walk will feature, among others:
- An outdoor classroom
- Interpretive sites
- Walking, cycling and exercise tracks
- An arboretum
- A bush tucker forest
- Interpretive, picnic and relaxation areas
- A children’s playground
- Active river rehabilitation sites
- Viewing platforms
- Artistic garden and water management features, and
- A nationally significant and unique kinetic sculpture.
Each element of the project will stimulate the imagination and tell a story about the ecology of the Pages River and its unique environment.
A series of integrated workshops and training programs will continue to engage all sectors of the local community: business owners, land owners, residents, and of course school students.
- On going Art and Science workshops with local school students.
- Landscape design, sculpture and natural history illustration workshops.
- Aboriginal historical and cultural heritage workshops.
- A short story writing competition.
- Local artists painting their impression of the Pages River.
- And more….
Ideas, suggestions and dreams that are generated in these forums will help form the basis of the final design for the River Walk and contribute to the development of the concept for a major kinetic artwork.
Turning the Pages (TTP) is an environmental project promoting awareness of the significance of the Pages River and its unique setting. As part of the process the TTP team and many helpers explore scientific and cultural context through a series of interactive community science and arts programs. This Art and Science project, which began in 2007, aims to engage and involve the small communities nestled in the River’s catchment to carry out of our vision. For this we invite scientists, visual artists, writers, indigenous officers, and teachers to conduct integrated arts and science workshops for schools children and adults.
The first stage of this unique project began in September 2007 in the Upper Hunter Valley in NSW. Scientists conducted workshops and field trips teaching students from 5 local schools about the biodiversity, history, ecology and importance of the Pages River. Writers, sound artists and visual artists instructed them in how to translate their newly acquired knowledge into various art forms.
Inspired by the science, 180 children from the local primary & high schools, set about translating what they learnt of the river life in the schools’ workshops into a temporary sculpture. Directed by artists from the Jennifer Turpin Studio, with the help of scores of volunteers, the magnificent River Quiver was created. The kinetic wind sculpture was placed along the meandering river, evoking the balance of nature. The 120 metre long artwork tilted, floated and quivered in a dancing performance, brought to life by the rhythm of the wind.
Through the creative process children experienced the joy, intensity and concentration of making art. Imaginations were ignited in the collaborative focus on the environment and the science of their river, generating a sense of wonder in its mysteries and extraordinary biodiversity.
River Quiver was the inaugural environmental artwork for the Turning the Pages project, and as such was the focal point of River Day in November 2007. The day of celebration was held at the centre of Murrurundi. About 1,000 members of the community attended the day watching in awe the movement of the large meandering man-size colourful bugs swaying along the river bank, listening to the sound recording of the students’ audio workshops. Everyone enjoyed a wide variety of artistic, scientific, educational, and entertaining activities and stalls.