Western Australian Maritime Museum (2005) Victoria Quay, AU


Walking with Water exhibition/performance

Sarah Jane Pell

"Although she (Pell) 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." - Dr. Jonathan Marshall, Realtime 2005

Odyssey 2 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005 Odyssey 1 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005 Odyssey 5 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005 Odyssey 8 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005 Odyssey 3 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005 Odyssey 9 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005

Odyssey, 2005 performed by Sarah Jane Pell at the Western Australian Maritime Museum for the opening of the Walking with Water exhibition.

A live art action performed from a point of submersion in the water of Victoria Quay, up the Submarine Slipway and into the Western Australia Martime Museum to defend my PhD.

On the occassion of her defence, the artist Sarah Jane Pell demonstrated the realities of live art performance from the mouth of the Swan River by performing Odyssey. She was 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.

Odyssey 6 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005

Prototype SCARF: Self-contained above-ground rebreather fashion or failure(?)
The image of the submarine re-breather hood was a monstrous biotech fission. The lime carbonate scrubber was in the shape of a heart. The dual bellows were in the shape of human lungs. The one-way inhalation and exhalation ports were fashioned with ribbed silicone tubing to reference the trachea. These ports joined the neck dam of a soft, inflatable hyperbaric hood filled with saline solution and the artists head. The life-support system was designed to place the body in-between as a life form of ubiquitous status. Once the prototype breathing apparatus had been designed and constructed, the critical edge of the performance act, action or activism, was cogent on publicly road testing the interface, and submerging the oral nasal cavities, to test the body response. By my own design, I failed. By my own design, the closed-loop life support system was compromised...and so the performance began! - excerp from Walking with Water, Sarah Jane Pell 2005

Walking with Water

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 exhibition included media performance screenings and installed artifacts from six aquatic-inspired performances including works from the UnderCurrent series, the Hydrophilia series; the paired works of Second Nature Second Skin and Revolution and the 100 invited guests at the Opening witnessed Odyssey a performance.

Odyssey 10 Sarah Jane Pell, WAMM 2005

Odyssey, 2005 performed by Sarah Jane Pell at the Western Australian Maritime Museum for the opening of the Walking with Water exhibition.

Production Credits

Technical Genius George BSP Broomstick Productions. Soundscape Lawrence English. Installation James Vernau. Production Assistance Kirsten Hudson, Anne Walton, Renee Pilkington, Scott Craig, Brendan Cole, Jarrad Cuff, Kay Grubb, Corioli Souter, Matthew Jenkins, Julie, Aron and crews. Thanks Mike Lafroy, Karen Majer, David van Oron, Graeme Henderson, Cathy Fisher and the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Victoria Quay staff.


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.

This exhibition was supported by the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Edith Cowan University, and BSP Broomstick Productions. Sponsors included Kalis Sisters, Taylor Marine, ARTRAGE, DiveSkiSurf, Pacific Commercial Divers & WA Waterbed Supplies. This work is part of the Aquabatics Research Team initiative (ARTi) PhD defence.

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