Walking with Water was one part of a submission for a PhD Visual Arts submitted to Edith Cowan University examined by Stelarc, Assoc. Prof. Shannon Bell, and Dr. Mark Minchinton. The retrospective exhibition included both media performance screenings and installed artifacts from six aquatic-inspired performances including two works from the UnderCurrent series, the highly evocative Hydrophilia ; the paired works of Second Nature Second Skin and Revolution and the 100 invited guests at the Opening night were also given a preview of a live performance Odyssey. On the occassion of her defence, the artist performed Odyssey as a parting gesture - a swan song from the mouth of the Swan River - demonstrating the realities of live art performance - testing for the first time - a fully-enclosed wearable hand-made life-support system with all the dramas and problem-solving that come with the inherent risks posed. The artist walked breathing from the system from the ocean harbour waters and along the Submarine slip way of Victoria Quay during a wild thunderstorm with crews relaying footage of her journey to an appreciative audience welcoming her inside the museum. Once the apparatus was removed, Pell stood before her peers and examiners, soaking wet, breathless and thoroughly delighted to defend the submission of 'Aquabatics as New Works of Live Art' as a PhD Visual Arts to Edith Cowan University.
"Walking With Water offered a retrospective of work by performance and installation artist Sarah-Jane Pell, in what she calls “aquabatics.” Although she draws on the poetic and performative potential suggested by aquatic environments, her body of work is best described as an aestheticisation of life support systems. The body in water is dialectical, at once in communion with and conflict with water. Aquatic performance offers the possibility of an ecstatic release into the enveloping weightlessness of an azure world, yet nevertheless the body gags in the face of this fantasy, as the need for oxygen reasserts itself. - Dr. Jonathan Marshall, Realtime 2005
Marshall, J., (2005) The Art of Life Support, Real Time & On Screen Vol68, Aug/Sep 2005, p.48
Britton, S., (2005) uncollectable artist? New Work ‘Aquabatics’ Sarah Jane Pell, Artlink Australia, Vol25 No.3, p.58.
Ed. (2005) Walking with Water, Intersector WA Public Sector Magazine, Vol11, No.6, 1 July 2005 p.26.
English, A. (2005) Artnotes WA: Sarah Jane Pell, Art Monthly Australia, No.180 June 2005 p.51.