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Sonia Leber and David Chesworth: Where Lakes Once Had Water


Sonia Leber and David Chesworth: Where Lakes Once Had Water

30 Jul 2022 – 13 Nov 2022

Where Lakes Once Had Water contemplates how the Earth is experienced and understood through different ontologies – ways of being, seeing, sensing, listening and thinking – that reverberate across art, Indigenous thought, science, ancient and modern cultures, the non-human, and in between.’

Situated in our Main Gallery, surrounded by six works recently gifted to the Museum by Judy Watson, which depict significant mountains and topographical features of Wurundjeri Country surrounding TarraWarra Museum of Art, we present the video work of Melbourne/Naarm-based artists Sonia Leber and David Chesworth who are renowned for their highly detailed, conceptual video works, soundscapes and installations.

In 2018 and 2019 the artists travelled with a team of Earth and environmental scientists who were investigating changes in the climate, landscape and ecology over many millennia in the Northern Territory of Australia. Their journey took them to the remote, expansive landscapes of the ephemeral Lake Woods, to Nitmiluk/Katherine Gorge and to Girraween Lagoon—to the lands and waters of the Mudburra, Marlinja, Jingili, Elliot, Jawoyn and Larrakia communities— traversing locations marked by long-term aridity through to lush, green waterways.

Where Lakes Once Had Water features a large-scale, dual-screen 28-minute video work which reflects this journey. The video introduces Mudburra man Ray Dimakarri Dixon, who calls to ancestral spirits to watch over Country as the scientists meticulously excavate the red earth of the once-submerged bed of Lake Woods. Working across the ancient shorelines, everyone is receptive to the signs, signals and rhythms of the land. Meanwhile, non-human cohabitants continue their struggles for survival. Back in the laboratory, scientists use the sediment samples to analyse cycles of wetting and drying in Australia over at least 130,000 years.

Where Lakes Once Had Water is the inaugural art commission of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH).

The exhibition will also feature three new sound, video and sculptural works by Sonia Leber and David Chesworth from their Sound Before Sound series, two of which are specially commissioned by TarraWarra. Sound Before Sound I: One and Three Scores, 2022; Sound Before Sound II: Auditioning the Archive, 2022; and Sound Before Sound III: Lyrebirdity, 2022, explore sound, landscape and the archive.

Showing together with Rhythms of the Earth: Selected Works from the TarraWarra Museum of Art Collection, curated by Victoria Lynn.

Image: Sonia Leber and David Chesworth, Where Lakes Once Had Water (video still), 2020, 2-channel 4K UHD video, stereo audio, 28:24 minutes. University of Wollongong Art Collection. CABAH Art Series. Commission in association with Bundanon. Filmed on the lands and waters of the Mudburra, Marlinja, Jingili, Elliot, Jawoyn and Larrakia communities in Northern Territory, Australia, with additional filming and editing on Barkandji, Dharawal, Djabugay, Yidinji and Wurundjeri Country.

Gallery Details

TarraWarra Museum of Art
311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road
Healesville VIC 3777
T: 03 5957 3100
E: museum@twma.com.au
W: twma.com.au

Opening Hours
Open Tuesday – Sunday: 11am to 5pm
Open 7 days a week from Boxing Day to Australia Day
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day

$10 Adults
$8 Seniors card holders
$5 Pensioners, concession & students
Children under 12 free

Wednesdays – free for 3777 and 3775 postcodes (Yarra Glen, Healesville & surrounds), students, pensioners and concession card holders

Admission is free for CIMAM and ICOM card-carrying members

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Gallery Info

The Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV) acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the lands where our office is located, and all Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria and Australia. We recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enduring traditions and continuing creative cultures. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.