SOLWATA (Saltwater) - A major ghost net commission for the Biennale of Sydney 2016

Published by: ReDot Fine Art Gallery | 23-Feb-2016
ReDot Fine Art Gallery, Singapore, in collaboration with Erub Arts, Australia, is proud to present SOLWATA (Saltwater) at the Biennale of Sydney 2016. This commissioned ghost net (abandoned fishing net) installation stretches an unprecedented 17 metres. For the gallery and the five artists involved, the invitation to the Biennale is an important opportunity to spread the urgent environmental message of the destruction occurring along the coast of northern Queensland where the artists live and work. In an ironic and even defiant statement, SOLWATA (Saltwater) represents the very reef and shoreline that the ghost nets continue to destroy.
Venue: Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)
Address: Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney NSW 2000
Date: Friday 18th March until Sunday 5th June 2016
Time: Open Daily 10am-5pm
Ticket: Free of Charge
In the collaborative ethos of most major ghost net works undertaken at Erub Arts, SOLWATA (Saltwater) brings together Erub artists Ellarose Savage, Florence Gutchen and Racy Oui-Pitt, with long-time collaborators and artists Lynnette Griffiths and weaver Marion Gaemers. This ambitious project provides a visually spectacular view of these women's responses to their lives on and around the shoreline of far north Queensland.

Along the northern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, where these women live and work, a devastating environmental nightmare prevails. In this region, one of the last safe havens for many endangered coastal and marine species, 90% of the marine debris is of a fishing nature, primarily abandoned fishing nets referred to as ghost nets. Over 300 entrapped turtles have been rescued from among the 13,000 rogue nets found along the beaches and estuaries. Despite the efforts of volunteers from the coastal Indigenous communities, the remote location and the high concentration of debris create a terrible logistical problem and an environmental catastrophe.

Artist Ellarose Savage describes the reef as her childhood garden and playground where her father taught her to hunt and fish. She has always loved the colours of the corals. For Ellarose, the other participating women, and ReDot Fine Art Gallery, collaborating on a ghost net work for the Biennale of Sydney 2016 is an opportunity to spread the urgent environmental message and to raise awareness around the importance of the health and sustainability of the oceans for future generations.

SOLWATA (Saltwater) is the first ghost net hanging of its kind, a major achievement stretching nearly 17 metres. The environmentally damaging ghost nets have been deconstructed, twisted, manipulated, and then woven together to create both abstract and realistic forms that represent the life and texture of the reef and shoreline. The underlying story of human interaction with the reef is seen in the shadows of the hanging cast on the wall in the form of faces. Like a snorkeler's first underwater reef experience, the viewer is also captivated by the forms, colours, and shadows of SOLWATA (Saltwater).

About the Women's collaboration for the Biennale of Sydney 2016

The invitation to collaborate on a major ghost net work for the Biennale of Sydney 2016 provided an opportunity to highlight the long-term working and mentoring relationships between Lynnette Griffiths and Marion Gaemers, and the Erub Artists Ellarose Savage, Florence Gutchen and Racy Oui-Pitt. These five women have worked together on various projects since 1995 when Erub Arts, previously Ekkilau Craft group, constructed their first major mixed media piece which is now held in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Since then, regular projects and continual practice has built their confidence and refined their skill with the ghost net medium. Because they had developed similar ideas and practices over previous years of working together, the women were able to work on the commission independently before bringing everything together to form SOLWATA (Saltwater). Women around the world laugh and talk while sitting and stitching together. The only difference is that at Erub Arts, the women come together stitching ghost nets.

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