David Watson,  Vanishing Point  (2009), Lambda print behind 3 mm perspex, 50 x 70 cm

David Watson, Vanishing Point (2009), Lambda print behind 3 mm perspex, 50 x 70 cm

David Watson,    Five Walks I Couldn't Do (and may never be able to)  2010, working sketch 6 x 8 cm

David Watson, Five Walks I Couldn't Do (and may never be able to) 2010, working sketch 6 x 8 cm

David Watson,  River Mourn  (2009), Lambda print behind 3 mm perspex, 59 x 45 cm

David Watson, River Mourn (2009), Lambda print behind 3 mm perspex, 59 x 45 cm

David Watson,  Ageing Photos, Williams River  (2010), Lambda print, 15 x 22 cm

David Watson, Ageing Photos, Williams River (2010), Lambda print, 15 x 22 cm

David Watson,  Floor Waste  (2010), Lambda print behind 6 mm perspex, 78 x 78 cm

David Watson, Floor Waste (2010), Lambda print behind 6 mm perspex, 78 x 78 cm

Cry Me a River

A Williams River Valley Artists’ Project exhibition at Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney, October 2010.

I work with the Williams River Valley Artists’ Project (WRVAP), a collective of nine environmentally-alarmed Australian contemporary artists. Juliet Fowler Smith formed WRVAP in 2009 to oppose an ill-conceived $400 million dam on the Williams River near Dungog, 200 km north of Sydney. The proposed dam at Tillegra would have flooded kilometres of river valley, precious eco-systems and indigenous/settler histories, destroyed the livelihoods and social fabric of local communities and wiped ‘Manns Hill’ - the property farmed for five generations by Juliet’s family - from the map. After years of sustained grass-roots opposition and a rising tide of public dismay, plans for the Tillegra Dam were eventually shelved by the NSW government in late 2010. 

WRVAP’s research involved supporting the activist work of the No Tillegra Dam Group, speaking with local landholders, farm workers and townsfolk… also several rewarding 2-3 day residencies up at ‘the Hut’ on Juliet’s farm… walking, talking, immersing ourselves in the district’s local histories, its protagonists, ecologies and ‘introduced species’, and lolling in the deep pools/liloing the rapids of the glorious snaking Williams River.

To accompany Cry Me a River, WRVAP’s first exhibition in Sydney - after modest shows @ Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery and Tocal Homestead - we produced The Stuttering Frog, a 12 pp agit-prop newspaper & exhibition catalogue… 

The Stuttering Frog [WRVAP newspaper/catalogue]

Artists Juliet Fowler Smith, Bridget Nicholson, Noelene Lucas, Margaret Roberts, Neil Berecry-Brown, Suzanne Bartos, Bonita Ely, Toni Warburton and David Watson exhibited in Cry Me a River.

Cry Me a River [exhibition invitation]

Whilst this site focusses on my individual output, it is important that these works be seen too as ‘ingredients’ within WRVAP’s broader environmental arts activist ferment…

williamsrivervalley.blogspot.com.au charts WRVAP’s regional residencies, research, exhibition, performance and publishing activities in some detail.

See also Leave It in the Ground, Instruments of Democracy and While We Sleep under ‘Exhibitions’ on this page. 

David Watson,  No Dam|Mad On  (2011), pure pigment print on archival art paper, 82 x 188 cm  With the stroke of a pen weeks before her own demise NSW Premier Kristina Keneally knocked the contentious Tillegra Dam on the head in late 2010. Bright pink WILLIAMS RIVER SAVED FOREVER signage soon announced the cheering news - which for many in the valley had been a long time coming. This image was shown at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery in late 2011 as part of WRVAP’s  Riparian Rites  exhibition.

David Watson, No Dam|Mad On (2011), pure pigment print on archival art paper, 82 x 188 cm

With the stroke of a pen weeks before her own demise NSW Premier Kristina Keneally knocked the contentious Tillegra Dam on the head in late 2010. Bright pink WILLIAMS RIVER SAVED FOREVER signage soon announced the cheering news - which for many in the valley had been a long time coming. This image was shown at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery in late 2011 as part of WRVAP’s Riparian Rites exhibition.