An environmental art installation for the EcoArts Australis conference, Wollongong May 2019

8 Schools from across NSW and SA collaborated with Penny Sadubin to create a piece of environmental art for the EcoArts Australis conference, held in Wollongong in late May 2019.

The schools had responded to my invitation to help 3D print models of Murray Cod, the fish representing the dire ecological stress that the river system is under. My installation responds to the “fish kill” events that occurred on a 30km stretch of the Darling River in December ‘18 and January ‘19. Shocking images hit the media of first thousands, then millions of fish suffocated to death in stagnant water depleted of oxygen. Giant Murray Cod, some around 50 years old, or some even older, that have lived through previous challenging drought cycles had nowhere to go and the sight of these grand fish still and lifeless in such numbers is surely the most emblematic image of the complex threats to our native wildlife and ecosystems of recent times. This time though, the ecosystem has been pushed to the brink by not only drought and changing climate but the over extraction of water leading to poor water quality, blue green alagal blooms depleting oxygen and the perfect storm for ecosystem collapse.

To create the installation, I decided to being used to overlay my 2m x 2.3m hand-drawn map of part of the NSW, VIC, SA part of the Murray Darling Basin. 30 fish were produced for the exhibition by the schools. I was so pleased that the schools took the opportunity to learn more about this dramatic environmental issue while also learning about 3D printing technology. So a huge thank you to the staff and students of: Carinya Christian School Gunnedah, Corrimal High school, Elonera Montessori school, Goolwa Primary school, Loxton Lutheran school, Oak Flats High, Oxford Falls Grammar school, Stanwell Park Public school. It was wonderful to receive the fish that you printed for the exhibition and place them all on the map alongside the others printed for me by UOW Makerspace team and Upward Manufacturing. A third Illawarra-based 3D printing enterprise Me3D were invaluable on technical support, not only creating the 3D print .stl file for me from my original photos of my handmade clay but allowing me to upload the file to their “Buildflow”project page. Me3D supply printers and educational programs to schools across Australia. So to be able to use their Buildflow enabled me to be able to reach out to schools.

The installation was finally installed in the public space foyer of IC Central where the EcoArt conference was hosted at the UOW Innovation Campus. The piece could be seen over 2 days, not only by the delegates of the conference but also members of the public going about their day. I presented the story of how the piece evolved through collaboration to the Conference via a ‘Pecha Kucha’ slide presentation. I was inspired by hearing other delegates present their work too. But the highlight for me was to welcome students from Corrimal High and Elonera Montessori school who had helped with the printing when they came to see the final piece.

My thoughts now turn to how I can continue to use 3D printing as a tool for collaboration with schools, about where FISH KILL 2019 might travel next or other forms it might take. If you would like to collaborate too, or know more please do get in touch via the form below.

Murray Cod , Clay relief by Penny Sadubin March 2019 - the starting point for the 3D prints

Murray Cod, Clay relief by Penny Sadubin March 2019 - the starting point for the 3D prints

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