For Melbourne’s annual Moomba Water Festival in 2009 (Australia’s largest and longest running free community festival), we were invited by ArtPlay to create an interactive installation for the general public. Our friends ‘Slow Art Collective’ had been commissioned to create a large sculptural work depicting the Yarra River, (made out of recycled materials) in the main hall of ArtPlay. For our part, we decided to turn the gallery section of ArtPlay into a water-inspired ‘Invisible Yarra River Drawing Laboratory’. We prepared by taking two water samples from different parts of this river. One was from in the green outer suburbs of Melbourne (Warrandyte), and the other was sourced from the middle of town, where the river runs past Federation Square.

We created a wall-sized scale-bar depicting all the diverse kinds of life we find in the Yarra River, typically invisible to us –  from Cyanobateria and Damsel fly nymphs to Euglenas and Rotaviruses….the list was really quite long (and rather, deep….)!
We compared and contrasted our two water samples by projecting footage of each onto two different pieces of large-format paper. As people came through the space, they added their observations to one or both of these collaborative drawings, using ink, oil pastel and oil stick. Over the course of three days, we made eleven of these ‘bio-monitor’ drawings, plus many weird and wonderful play-doh creatures inspired by the microscopic life depicted on our Invisible Yarra scale-bar diagram.
At this extremely well-attended event, SFN was supported by small team of artist-educators, Natalie Iacono, Sandra Peles and Samuel Barnes.





Moomba Festival


Photographs by David Aguis