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By Louise Devenish and Stuart James in collaboration with Erin Coates
Alluvial Gold presents a sonic exploration of the often-forgotten worlds below the surface of our rivers in a performance installation by percussionist Louise Devenish, and composer Stuart James in collaboration with visual artist Erin Coates.
Australian rivers such as the Derbarl Yerrigan (WA) were heavily dredged and ground up for mortar, roads, and building materials at sites across the city throughout European settlement. Similar histories of dredging, changing estuarine ecology, and the impacts of settler intervention took place in river systems across southern Australia, particularly in areas used as ports or trading routes following European colonisation.
Taking the histories, materials, and ecology of metropolitan rivers in Australia as a point of departure, Alluvial gold explores the changing worlds below river surfaces caused by colonisation and industrialisation.
Instruments are modelled on dolphin bones, native oyster shells, and marine ecology, paired with electronics and nestled against curtains of shells creating a sparkling cluster of harmonics, percussion, and sculpture mixed with sound recordings captured in the river.
Exploring the confluence of multiple narratives connected to rivers – Alluvial Gold offers a sonic picture of what is below the surface in this art installation meets contemporary music performance.
Performer and Director
Composition and Sound Design
Sculptural Instruments and Original Video Design
During the European settlement establishments and in the decades that followed, native shellfish reefs within Australian rivers such as the Derbarl Yerrigan (WA) were dredged and ground up for mortar, roads and building materials at sites across the city. Similar histories of dredging, changing estuarine ecology and the impacts of human intervention took place in river systems across southern Australia, particularly in areas used as ports or trading routes following European colonisation.
Alluvial Gold explores multiple narratives connected to rivers, with a focus on the dredging of shellfish reefs, the presence of heavy metals, and changing estuarine ecologies. Sculptural percussion instruments including bronze casts of lead-damaged dolphin bones and circles of sonified oystershell ‘curtains’ fitted with audio sensors, are brought together with vibraphone and sparkling clusters of metal and ceramic percussion to create a tapestry of sonic material. Electronic processing and integration of hydrophone river recordings capturing sounds at the riverbed and surface: air, water and crustacean movements, and shifting algae.
19 April 2023: New Music Days at Melbourne Recital Centre.
7-8 April 2023: Presented by Four Winds Festival, NSW.
20 - 22 June 2022: Presented by Tura New Music and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (premiere season).
20 June 2022: PICA Artist workshop, ‘Collaborative creativity across visual art and music in Alluvial Gold’.
10-13 February 2021: Perth Festival (pre-premiere season).
"A fine example of Australian eco-artistry." — Australian Music Centre
"Devenish is hypnotic to watch and deliberate in her delivery, drawing out single notes on the xylophone and triangles into uncomfortable spaces that demand the world be experienced at a different pace." — Artshub
"A demonstration of beautifully integrated artistry from three thoughtful and immensely skilled creators." — Seesaw Magazine
"The whole experience was mesmerising." — Magazine6000