Albany Harbour adds finishing touch to works of submerged art
Time and tide may wait for no man, but for Valdene Diprose's latest art installation, the two elements proved a winning combination.
The Western Australian artist chose Albany's Princess Royal Harbour not as just the inspiration but the facilitator of her project, which is on display as part of the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF).
Mamang Koort — Heart of the Whale is the final product, made up of 150 canvases that were each stretched over a pallet and submerged at various locations in the harbour over the course of five weeks.
It is not the first time Ms Diprose has attempted such a project, but she said several similar projects had given her confidence to attempt it on a large scale in Albany.
"Part of this process has been the disasters I've experienced trying this before," Ms Diprose said.
"There have been times I have simply thrown my hands up and walked away, but I've always been fascinated with the notion of how things change with time and tide, and simply letting a body of water make it's mark and accepting the consequences."
After scouting suitable locations on the historical harbour, Ms Diprose first assembled pallets, stretched the canvas over them, installed them at low tide and let nature do its thing.
"It was quite mind-blowing how different areas of the harbour left different imprints," Ms Diprose said.
"Some held large amounts of seaweed while other areas seemed to be home to all sorts of little snails that have left markings on the canvas so I've ended up with a narrative of the harbour."
The process of retrieval also proved tricky.
"As they came out of the water, I had to keep them as flat as possible so as not to loose any of the detail," Ms Diprose said.
"Then they were covered in glue to keep everything in place. It was quite the process, but it's been a pleasing and quite emotional experience."
Arts festival comes to town
By chance, Ms Diprose was approached by organisers of the 2016 Perth International Arts Festival with the request of exhibiting the installation with an adjunct collaborative piece.
During the creation of her initial work, Ms Diprose had met four Albany locals, Annette Davis, Lizzie Riley and local noongar artists, Caroline and Cheryl Narkle and pitched the idea of a collaborative artwork.
"We set to work and it became clear the harbour was held dear to everyone's heart," Ms Diprose said.
"It was one of those moments where you meet the right people at the right time and it all seems to come together."
The collaboration was selected to be exhibited at the PIAF and will be on display at Albany's Vancouver Arts Centre until February 29.
"We've ended up with one big main canvas about 14 metres long, which is mounted on a plywood structure," Ms Diprose said.
"We've ended up with a plywood skin in the shape of the harbour which you walk into. It also looks like a uterus, which is fitting given the Princess Royal Harbour used to be a birthing place for whales and gave birth to the town itself in a way."