Life stories to flow with Amy Sharrocks during Perth International Arts Festival’s Museum of Water


Amy Sharrocks at Reflection Pond, UWA. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Amy Sharrocks at Reflection Pond, UWA. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

UK live artist, sculptor and filmmaker Amy Sharrocks has investigated the lure of water in her works for more than 10 years.

The mother-of-three has invited people to float on swimming pools in a boat, tied 65 people together with a ribbon and trekked along London’s lost Walbrook River with them.

Three years ago she was invited by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to make a piece commemorating John Snow’s discovery of cholera as a waterborne disease.

Just as Snow walked the streets of London, asking people how they lived and piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of their days to find the disease’s source, Sharrocks created the Museum of Water by inviting people to bring along any bottle of any water and tell their story of why it was so precious to them.

Museum of Water has been made in the UK and Netherlands and now the Perth International Arts Festival has chosen Sharrocks as a PIAF artist in residence.

She was in Perth last week to prepare ahead of bottle collection at next February’s festival, followed by a big installation of all the water in 2018 before becoming part of the WA Museum’s permanent collection.

“This piece isn’t about me coming with a lot of bottles and saying ‘Come and look at what I’ve got’; it’s a piece that says ‘What can we make together?’,” Sharrocks said.

“I’m just a way to begin a conversation but really it’s about people here and your experience of water and what you tell me.

“This is a museum where everyone is the donor, the artist and the curator.

“It’s staggering what people have brought and what they choose to treasure.

“The best moment of my day is when someone sits down, they put a bottle in the middle of us and I get to say ‘What’s in your bottle?’ and then they blow my mind.

“Our job as museum custodians is to remember what you tell us and we pass it on; it’s an aural tradition.”

More: Perth International Arts Festival announces packed 2017 program

Water bottle collection points will be at Leighton Beach from 8-11am and 4-7pm on February 18 and 19, Perth CBD from 11am-6pm on February 21 to 23, Reflection Pond, UWA, from 11am-6pm on February 25 and 26 and Albany from 10am-4pm on March 4 and 5.

Sharrocks said she was excited about approaching the WA climate with its different issues, problems and joys surrounding water.

“Water is the scene and instigation of our greatest joys – summer water fights in the garden, jumping in the sea, boating on the river – but it is also present during our deepest pain; it’s the tears we cry,” she said.

“Someone said it was life and death and all the washing up in between.

“I have the water from the bedside table after a night full of dreams and I have tears of joy from a man on hearing he’d been ordained a priest.

“It’s a live artwork but in some ways the live artwork has already happened and what is in the museum is only the retelling of a journey someone has already gone on, whatever that journey is.

“The museum is also a space for gathering: come and look at the water, come and have a glass of water from our Water Bar for the sense of being in an extraordinary position to have access to fresh water. Not everybody in the world has that.”

WATER COLLECTION POINTS

Leighton Beach, 8-11am and 4-7pm, February 18 and 19

Perth CBD, 11am-6pm, February 21 to 23

Reflection Pond, UWA, 11am-6pm, February 25 and 26

Albany, 10am-4pm, March 4 and 5