The Riparian Project worked with the Yea Wetlands Committee of Management in Victoria, Australia to build the first Riparian Project artwork. Grazing was allowed in the Yea wetlands for decades, and is gradually being phased out as the wetlands are being protected and conserved. Members of the Yea community have spent hundreds of hours restoring the wetlands and installing boardwalks so that people can experience the wetlands up close. The Yea wetlands is now a beautiful natural area full of native plants and animals.
The aim of the Yea Riparian Project is to design and install an iconic artwork that will raise awareness and concern about the problems of riparian grazing, and that will also be an amazing addition to the Yea wetlands. It will be permanent public artwork for the local community, located in the Yea wetlands. A public art advisory group (PAAG) made up of members of the Yea community has been working with the Riparian Project to develop the artwork.
The Riparian Project team worked with community members in the town of Yea to gain a greater understanding of local riparian land issues, the value and uses of the Yea Wetlands to the broader community, and to develop a design brief for an artwork in the area. Themes and considerations arising from the first workshop that were included in the design brief include:
- The artwork should promote dialogue on river health, while exploring ways to create solutions to riparian grazing and protection.
- The artwork should reflect a sense of connection/intersection between the geological location of the Yea Wetlands – the areas of restoration and that of the grazing area.
- The artwork will be a permanent feature in the Yea Wetlands site.
- The artwork will be sensitive to the site through the use of materials and its location, as to not disrupt any natural habitats in the day or night. It will provide another dimension enhancing the site and it will be linked to place conceptually.
- The artwork will be ‘intriguing/seductive, positive and hopeful’. The artwork should not be ‘disturbing/confronting or “ugly”‘ in terms of materials used or subject matter.
- The artwork should encourage viewers to look at the site in a different light rather than as ornamentation.
- The artwork is not to be historical – it creates its own history. The work should enhance the public’s awareness of contemporary art in positive way.
Jen responded to the design brief that was established during the first PAAG workshop with two artwork concepts. These concepts were presented at the second PAAG workshop and one of the concepts was chosen to be developed further. This included conducting a feasibility study on a proposed site adjacent to the Yea Wetlands and working with our engineer on the sculptural components. At the same time, The Riparian Project team and The Yea Wetlands Committee of Management worked together to establish partnerships with local and state organisations to gain support and investment for the project.