Original Creative Work
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
Alluvium is a part of the Alluvial Gold project, spanning drawing, sculpture, video and performance, which has been commissioned by Goolugatup Heathcote for their Tilt residency and exhibition program.
For this major new body of work, Coates delves into the often-forgotten world below the river surface to explore the changing ecology of the Derbarl Yerrigan / Swan River. Informed by marine biology, historical research and her experiences free-diving in the river, Coates looks at the transference of matter into and out the river.
In the film Alluvium, Coates brings a visceral drama to the biology of the Derbarl Yerrigan, a salt wedge estuary flowing through Boorloo / Perth. The film alludes to the complex hydrodynamics, biology and chemistry of the river and the ways these have been changed in the 200 years since the establishment of the Swan River Colony. Nutrient loading caused by runoff from residential fertilisers and upstream agriculture increase the phosphorus and nitrogen in the water, thus promoting algal blooms and low oxygen conditions. The shellfish reefs were dredged from the river and invasive species like the white colonial sea squirt (Didemnum perlucidum) and mermaid’s hair (Lyngbya) compete with native sea grasses. In recent years there have been unusual mortality events among the resident dolphin population. The dolphins that have died all showed signs of tattoo skin disease (Cetacean Morbillivirus), a virus that causes circular skin lesions. Alluvium provides a dark speculation on the transformation of river ecosystems while highlighting the fecundity and resilience of life forms within this urban waterway.
Percussionist Louise Devenish and composer Stuart James have created a musical score for this film, by exploring the instrumental potential of Coates’ oyster shell and metallic sculptures.
A film by Erin Coates
Composed by Stuart James
Percussion performed by Louise Devenish
HD video with sound 9:30 minutes