Freshwater Lens | Judy Watson

23 March, 2010

PROJECT Turbot Street Overpass
CLIENT Brisbane City Council
LOCATION Brisbane, QLD, Australia
ARTIST Judy Watson
ARTWORK TITLE Freshwater Lens
ART MANAGEMENT Urban Art Projects
YEAR 2010

Where Turbot Street passes over Roma Street in Brisbane’s Central Business District, a public oasis marks the point where creeks and springs had formerly met. In pre-colonial times, Indigenous people would gather together with other language groups from the area for ceremony and cultural exchange. Since then, it has been a gathering place for numerous protests and meetings.

Renowned indigenous Australian artist Judy Watson was commissioned to create a major public artwork to re-activate this once forgotten urban space.

Judy’s suspended sculpture references the freshwater lens, a body of fresh water that pools beneath coral atolls and sand islands, such as Queensland’s Heron Island and Stradbroke Island. The fresh water floats atop the salty seawater, its weight pushing out into a lens shape. The artist describes these and other subterranean bodies of water as “hidden, fragile, precious jewels, sustaining the environment and all life forms.”

The sculpture, which measures four metres in length, is formed from beaten brass and patinaed to reference the effects of water on its surface. As part of the site’s thematic focus on the role of water in the community, rainwater from the Turbot Street overpass is harvested, fed into a water tank, and used to nourish the gardens of the public space below. The water tank is housed by a weathered steel screen which features patterns the artist developed to represent the flow of water from nearby Spring Hill.

Part of the Brisbane City Council’s Small Spaces public art program, the artwork humanises the space by changing the sense of scale and perspective in the site, softening the dominant lines of the built environment and signifying the history of the space.

One Response to “Freshwater Lens | Judy Watson”

  1. […] Watson’s Freshwater Lens artwork, part of the newly redeveloped Little Roma Street urban oasis, was officially opened last Thursday […]

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