Water constantly changes form: from clouds to snow, from ice to water. Tomás Saraceno’s Biospheres 2009 model the interrelation of all living systems. They are a reminder of the water molecule H2O: a single atom of oxygen attended by two hydrogen atoms, an apparently simple compound from which such complexity has evolved.
Mr W Wanambi adapts traditional hollow log coffins to express the cycle of life and spirit in new ways. His three larrakitj represent a sacred group of rocks in Trial Bay, East Arnhem Land. A swirling school of fish cover the surface of one pole, referencing sea mullet as they leap with vital energy from the waves. Infinity nets 2000 is part of a long-running series of paintings which Yayoi Kusama began after observing patterns of light and shadow as she flew over the Pacific Ocean.
Mr W Wanambi / Marrakulu, Dhurili people / Australia 1962–2022 / Larrakitj 2017, Larrakitj 2017 and Wawurritjpal (Larrakitj) 2017 (Purchased 2017 with funds from Pamela, Michael and Jane Barnett through the Queensland Art Gallery l Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: QAGOMA / © Mr W Wanambi, courtesy of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala) installed for ‘Water’ at GOMA, with works by Tomás Saraceno and Laurence Aberhart in the background, December 2019 / Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA
Charwei Tsai brings the ancient art of calligraphy to a surface of relative impermanence, drawing a circle in liquid black ink on melting ice. Dhuwarrwarr Marika paints the sacred spring Milngurr 2018 in concentric circles of white, which also refer to the fontanelle of a newborn child.
Rivane Neuenschwander charts our connective dependencies. In her film Contingent 2008, ants consume the world’s continents marked out in drizzled honey. A selection of photographs from Bonita Ely’s larger ‘Murray River Fieldwork’ 1977 and ‘Murray River Project Continued’ 2007–09 series offer evidence of drought, rising salinity and pollution over 32 years. Peter Dombrovskis is known for his images of the Tasmanian wilderness. Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend, Franklin River 1979 is an icon of the hardfought campaign to preserve Tasmania’s Franklin River from damming.
Water creates a space of infinite reflection. A space to consider everything beyond us, and the rhythm of our lives. As night falls, as the years pass, Laurence Aberhart captures the last light of day over the ocean.