Nigel Helyer


Portrait of the Shoalhaven

An Environmental Portrait of the Shoalhaven River Valley emerged in response to Bundanon Trust’s desire to increase public knowledge of both the natural and cultural heritage of its site.

The Trust sought an innovative project that would increase the understanding of both the region’s natural environment of 1100 hectares of bushland overlooking the Shoalhaven River, and its cultural history, including Indigenous history and the modernist art milieu associated with Arthur Boyd.

A research team was assembled to include expertise in environmental science, media theory, sound art and technology, cultural history and interactive art. The project involves the creation of an interactive audio-visual portrait of the region, incorporating both a representation of the natural environment and its cultural history.

This art-based research project uses art as a medium to examine environmental values and cultural history, changing locals’ and visitors’ perception of the area and its environment. The project has received the support of The Australia Council, which, through its Synapse initiative, aims to foster collaboration between artists and scientists in the creation of contemporary art works.

The principal aims of the project are:

  • To produce an interactive and environmentally sensitive portrait of the Shoalhaven River Valley and the associated Bundanon Trust properties.
  • To obtain scientific data, including water purity levels taken at the site and measures of biodiversity, to create an environmental study of the area.
  • To collect oral histories and other aural archival material to create a unique cultural history of the region.

This project will create new knowledge of the region and its histories due to the innovative research method combining art, environmental science and cultural history. This knowledge will be communicated through the project’s multiple outputs of art installations, mobile audio-visual tour of the area using GPS or 3G coverage, web access for offsite virtual visitors, public programs including research seminars, workshops and artist talks, and publications.

Nigel Helyer

Nigel Helyer working on site