in the field

The Laboratory & Field Day

Laboratory 2010

Throughout the year a Laboratory was held with invited artists, scientists and scholars to encourage collaborative research about Bundanon and to develop ideas to share with the public. Walking, talking, listening, making and performing were all part of the Field Day on 25 September 2010.


Co-convenors: Michael Cohen, Deborah Ely and Fiona Winning developed the framing ideas and structure for the Laboratory (the Lab) and the subsequent public event.

Fiona Winning is a writer and producer working in contemporary arts – across live performance, visual cultures and interactive practices. She was Director of Performance Space 1999-2008 and in that time produced and co-curated (with Teresa Crea and Sarah Miller) six Time_Place_Space laboratories. She is currently Head of Programming for Sydney Festival.

Michael Cohen is a site based performance director and Creative Producer at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. He was Co Artistic Director of Theatre Kantanka (1996–2006), director of Fire Water (2009 Vivid Festival), Program Director of Newcastle Live Sites (2004-8) and Co-Director of Ten Trenches at Bundanon 2009.

Participants (the Associates):Richard Scott-Moore, Cecil McLeod, Robyn Backen, Diego Bonetto, Barbara Campbell, Leah Gibbs, Rayma Johnson, Alex Kershaw, Nick Keys, Heidrun Lohr, Garth Paine, Tess de Quincey, r e a, Peta Strachan and Jim Wallis. (See Artworks for more details of the participants).

Provocateurs: Historian Michael Organ; fluvial geo-morphologist Tim Cohen; riverflow scientist Ivars Reinfelds; agronomist Maarten Stapper; river activist Charlie Weir; Chris Presland, Landscape Manager, Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and aquatic scientist Pia Winberg.

Lab participants were introduced to the Bundanon properties – their physical, botanic, geological and historic dimensions. Written research and historic documents were provided and various guest experts were invited into the Lab to share their knowledge. An orientation weekend included three walks:

River Walk: Local Indigenous artists Richard Scott-Moore and Cecil McLeod walked participants to the river and shared cultural knowledge about reading country.

Sonic Walk: Sound artist Nigel Helyer led a 'sonic' walk whereby blindfolded participants guided each other through the bush listening and notating what they heard.

Escarpment Walk: Environmental Educator Henry Goodall, led an escarpment walk introducing participants to his personal narrative of the Shoalhaven River.

In September, Lab participants re-assembled and various scholars and peers were invited to join the Lab to present information and 'provocations' to expand the realm of research. Whilst participant research was self-directed, the Convenors ensured adequate support was provided and that exchange of information was regular and critical. Over the week, various solo and collaborative pieces were researched and developed. A blog was created and participants prepared to share their research with audiences.

School students from Bomaderry High were guests of the Lab Associates for a day and had unique exposure to new ideas as part of our Art of Learning education program. Students undertook creative writing by blogging; experimented with soundscapes; were taught Aboriginal weaving and learned how the landscape has been shaped through the movement of floods and waves of human settlement.


On Saturday 25 September the Field Day at Bundanon included talks about sea level rise and how the river shapes us; filmed conversations with people on the river; food and drink made from ‘weeds’; Indigenous weaving, songs and stories and philosophical speculation about sentimental logic. The evening finished with a dinner under the stars for nearly 200 people, performances around the Homestead and on the river bank, and the staged burning installation of the word ‘Maang’ (Indigenous word for ‘message stick’).

Guest Presenters: In addition to the Associates the following were invited to contribute to the event: Keith Armstrong; Lyndal Jones, The Avoca Art and Climate Change Project; Angharad Wynne-Jones, Tipping Point