Jennifer McElwee

Remembering lost views in a changing environment at Barwon River

As Mountain to Mouth 2016 approaches, we thought it was time to take a closer look at the Artists and District Coordinators who are guiding different aspects of the journey.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise the twelve Songline Stations across the 80km walk in the Geelong and Queenscliffe regions. Each Station features a walking circle punctuated by an installation, which range from a mixture of audio, interactive, visual and performance arts that interact with and reflect the diverse environments they are set in. Each of the walking circles express the unique nature of its locality and community, playing a significant role in transforming the walk into a journey that encourages its participants to discover extreme arts and the surrounding environment.

SONGLINE STATION 6: BARWON RIVER ROWING PRECINCT. Kicking off the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 is the sixth songline station at Barwon River Rowing Precinct, where artist Jennifer McElwee will present "Lost River View", a walking circle that signifies the changes to the environment that have resulted from the obtrusion of suburban expansion. She uses Eugene von Guerard's View of Geelong, 1856, as a reference point for the ways in which the area has adversely changed, the most significant consequence being that the view depicted in von Guerard's painting can no longer be seen.

View of Geelong,  1856, by Eugene von Guerard

View of Geelong, 1856, by Eugene von Guerard

For over a century the general public was unaware of von Guerard's painting. McElwee questions whether the self esteem of the community and sense of value for the environment would have been stronger if it was known how highly the region and painting was regarded. The walking circle will be formed by water filled cooking vessels symbolising settlement along the river. In the centre lies a sculpture based on the original shape of the river from the perspective of the now lost view. The extremity of the art lies within the challenge of its demand; that we must consider the needs of the community concurrently with the needs of the environment by regarding significant natural sites.

The Songline Station at Barwon River Rowing Precinct is open from 6:00am-7:45am on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 2.9km walk from Steampacket Gardens. Check out the timetable for more information. 

Mountain to Mouth is Geelong's multi-award winning journey of discovery, an 80km walk over two days and 11 stages. Register now.