Cleanse is an exploration of memory and place, and the shifting narratives associated with Sydney’s Parramatta River. An artwork in the CMAI Memory Flows exhibition at the Newington Armory, Sydney, May 14 to June 20, 2010, it was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts and UTS.
Although million dollar properties and bright high-rise apartments now line its banks, the Parramatta River has only recently become the site of such splendour. The insane asylum at Bedlam Point in Gladesville, the Radium Hill uranium refinery on the riverbank at Hunter’s Hill, and the Union Carbide and AGL plants at Rhodes and Mortlake, remind us of the river’s murky, contentious past. Traversing fishing spots, industrial sites and waterfront property hotspots, the river has been by turns bountiful, toxic, ignored, beloved, imperilled, and reclaimed.
I grew up in Gladesville near the Parramatta River, where my grandfather worked at the radium plant, where my father and brothers used to fish, and where I roamed the grounds of the mental asylum as a child, playing with a friend. Using montages of video and audio, and incorporating authentic artefacts from in and around the river, ( my grandfather’s handmade depression era fishing trap, made from chicken wire, among other things) Cleanse threads narratives from its past and present, revealing disturbing memories swirling in its waters.
RealTime Arts review July 2010.
Centre for Media Arts Innovation http://www.communication.uts.edu.au/centres/cmai/projects/index.html