Commissioned: Docklands Authority.
Docklands Park, Melbourne, Victoria. 2002-2004.
Reed Vessel embraces themes of migration, the river and the sea. The work references the history of the site, the once-abundant food source of the vast, tidal wetland that existed here, stories of the river and marine archaeology.
The vessel becomes a container of memories, a symbol of distant horizons, spiritual journeys, life, hope and survival. Texts sandblasted onto the louvered sides of the cradle are selected from works by Australian poets and writers, metaphors relating to the river and sea, memory, loss and the passage of time.
The cladding of Reed Vessel alludes not only to the rib and strake of timber and steel ships but also to tidal flow, woven baskets, riverboat and canoe. The skeletal structure can be referenced as leaf or seed pod, source of food and source of life.
Water, symbol of life and the spirit, flows from a reservoir beneath the vessel down the louvred panels to the reflection pool and is recycled.
Surplus clean water is released into the Yarra River. Mist machines are placed in the reflection pool.
A pedestrian footbridge, fabricated from perforated aluminium planks, passes across the wetland and through the support cradle of the vessel.
At either end, the footbridge decking of textured planks is inlaid with castings of endangered wetland fauna: frog, lizard and eel.
Materials: Stainless steel, aluminium louvers, recycled plastic decking, aluminium and bronze castings
Dimensions: 18metres x 6500 x 2500mm.
Image: Dale Smaley