Scale Free Network have been developing the new citizen art-science concept ‘Drawing-as-BioMonitoring‘ for the last several years, at several different sampling and drawing locations. Also under the name of ‘Drawing Water’, more images can be viewed within this SFN gallery of all movement drawings.

Initially in 2009, we sampled and created approximately 1hr of microscopic video footage from two different locations along the Yarra River (in Melbourne), namely:

  • Warrandyte (upper yarra)
  • Birrarung Marr (inner-city yarra)

Afterwards, Jacqui led a team of collaborating Melbourne artist-teachers at ArtPlay to draw a series of 9 public drawings over 3 consecutive days, as a part of the City of Melbourne Moomba festival. Artist-teachers included Rebecca Power, Sandy Peles, Sam Y and Natalie X.

These drawings drew into stark contrast the vastly different amounts of biodiversity present between the samples. The more polluted lower (inner-city) yarra river sample had very low levels of biodiversity present in all types of samples…only a few bacteria, and some ciliate protozoa and diatoms were present. However, the upper (and likely less-polluted) yarra river samples contained many different morphologies of bacteria, protozoa, desmids, diatoms, as well as different macro-invertebrate insects, shrimp and other arthropods.

Three drawings were next created by primary and secondary school students at Ipswich Art Gallery, using the same two yarra river sets.

In 2011, in collaboration with Mark Thomas, we sampled from the Galaxia Billabong along Merri Creek, Melbourne. Afterwards we created 2 drawings at CERES environmental park, along with about 20 other children and adults.

In 2012, we sampled from the Torrens river (in Adelaide), creating a series of drawings at the Royal Institute of Australia (RiAUS) with school students participating in our workshop program. Some of these drawings are a part of RiAUS’ permanent collection.

In early 2013, we sampled from lake Benalla (in central Victoria) and created two large drawings with years 3-6 students at Benalla East Primary School.

Later in 2013, a sample from the Gowanus canal (Brooklyn, NY) was projected from a microscope to create a drawing at New York University – in collaboration with Natalie Jeremijenko and her class of design students…under the name Drawing Water.

Scale Free Network are planning to build on this early research (hopefully in collaboration with Tega Brain), to fully develop this concept – presenting our results in Melbourne in 2014/2015. Stay tuned…




Date: 2009-ongoing
Location: ArtPlay, Melbourne; Ipswich Art Gallery; Benalla East Primary School; New York University; CERES, Merri Creek; RiAUS, Adelaide...and more