ArtGeo Studio Residency // Courthouse Arts Complex & Busselton Jetty WA 2003
"UnderCurrent presents a single performer contained within a sealed transparent dome with a finite amount of breathable air. There is an overwhelming emotional intensity to these works for both the audience and performer... By suggesting an alternative future of limited air, these works force audiences to consider the important reciprocal relationship between humans and the earth's atmosphere."
Geographe Bay, Great Southern Region Western Australia
Busselton Jetty & Underwater Obersvatory
The 145-year-old hetitage listed Busselton Jetty, measured at 1841 metres, is the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere and today is one of Australia's most unique eco-tourism sites. Closed as a port in 1974, the 139 year old Jetty has since been ravaged by both fire and cyclone. An Underwater Observatory is located 1.7 kilometres from shore almost at the end of the Busselton Jetty. Descending 8 metres below sea level, visitors can view the amazing corals and fish life through eleven viewing windows, at various levels within a 9.5 metre diameter observation chamber.
The Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory, with more than 300 individual marine species, is host to an awe inspiring "forest" of vividly-coloured tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates. It is described as Australia's greatest artificial reef. Each year during autumn and winter, the Leeuwin Current brings a narrow band of warm water down the Western Australian coastline. This warm southerly current is responsible for the incredibly diverse array of tropical and sub-tropical species in Geographe Bay including coral growth at a latitude of 33 degrees south. The west coasts of other southern hemisphere continents such as Africa and South America have no coral growth below 5 degrees south.
ArtGeo Artist Residency - Courthouse Arts Complex Busselton
ArtGeo (formerly KickArts) Gallery and Courthouse Arts Complex is situated in Busselton across from the Busselton Jetty and north facing Geographe Bay. It is housed in one of the oldest buildings in WA. Built in 1856 and comprising of gaol cells, stables, sergeants quarters and courtroom. The traditional owners of the land on which the Courthouse buildings are situated are the Wardandi people of the Noongar band. The building operated as the centre of government administration in the region; control of shipping (customs); law and order and telecommunications. It served as a government facility for approximately 120 years and as an arts centre for 25 years. It has been an arts centre since 1975. In 1978 it was registered by the National Trust as a site of cultural heritage significance.
Improvised Performance along the 1.7km Busselton Jetty
What does it mean to perform under pressure and with self-containment? The artist is confined to a 45cm transparent dome containing limited breathable air. She must overcome the limits of her 'cell' to journey along the 2km historic jetty towards the underwater observatory and ocean port. Clambering over fish hooks and fish guts, seagull poop, nails and wooden splinters, the artist controrts and scrapes her body over the wooden timbers - feeling the seabreeze rise and the ocean surge audibly respire beneath her - peeling and burning her fleash over the non-slip concrete sections build to replace the sections of the jetty once damaged by cyclones - and under the blistering and magnified heat of the full midday Australian sun, she persists, lured by the promise of respite and reprieve in the sanctum of the ocean's embrace at the welcome of the Underwater Obsveratory. This performance pays homage to the spirit of the local communities and the histories that have shaped and the unique activities and life of Geographe Bay.
In the Press
Jansen, A., (2003) New Wave Artist, The West Magazine, Nov 28, p.27-28, pp. 2, 27, 28
King, T., (2003) OCH 15, From Country, AFWA Newsletter, Summer 2003, Vol 12, Ed. 4, pp 6
Keegan, T., (2003) Art under the water pushes boundaries, Busselton-Margaret Times, Oct 16, pp 10
Keegan, T., (2003) Our own little Mermaid, Busselton Herald, Oct 16, p.1, pp.1
Performance Series 2002-5
UnderCurrent 2003 Sarah Jane Pell, Busselton Jetty Western Australia Photo Lorraine Corker
KickArts, the Busselton City Council, Pro Busselton Committee and the Busselton Jetty Committee through an Old Court House Arts Centre Residency, 2003, supported this project.
Photography: Lorraine Corker
Production Assistance: Rose Williams
Special thanks to Edward Arrowsmith, Lorna Secrett, Sally Cooper and Lyn Barry