Cameron Robbins

River Pulse, Drawing Now 

5 – 29 June

Opening event: Wednesday 5 June, 5-7pm

River Pulse

Drawing Instrument

Loddon River , Central Victoria Sept/Oct 2023


This project offers a voice to a river, to make a statement in the cultural realm of art. As the wet weather of a the recent Triple La Niña climatic oscillation gives way to the oncoming El Niño dry climate event, River Pulse documents this transition on a stretch of the Upper Loddon river.


It is my hope that some sense of genius loci, spirit of place, and the feeling of the river comes through this body of work.


Following the momentous decision taken in New Zealand 2017 to endow legal entity personhood status to the Whanganui River, many other countries have adopted similar protections to their own rivers. At its beautiful, pulsing and clear state in Glenlyon, the Loddon River most definitely shows us that it has an environmental role, a personality and alot of character deserving recognition.


In an active flow of the upper Loddon, the River Pulse drawing instrument is tethered to River Callistemon (Callistemon Sieberi). Floating on a camouflaged inflatable SUP (stand up paddle board), the twin water turbines are always kept at a constant working depth to provide driving power to the two drawing mechanisms.


Drawings are set up and allowed to accumulate marks for varying lengths of time – from around 15 minutes to 15 hours. Water from river splashes, mists and rains are allowed to play on the inks and pigments; the pens strike stones used as paperweights; over night they eat through the heavy watercolour paper .


Some drawings are classic black pigment ink on white paper. Some of the watercolour paper was coloured in the studio using blue black and inks and metallic pigments, giving high contrast flowing grounds for the silver, gold, white and coloured inks of the pens.


Two waterwheels turn in response to the river flow. Hand made in the Castlemaine studio – from recycled aluminium , adapted high performance bicycle rims, brass fittings, stainless steel shafts and bearings. Through a series of linkages, right angle drives, swivels and stainless rods and wires, the kinetic energy is transferred to two pens cooperating and arguing to make marks on watercolour paper.


The drawing board itself is on a double swivel arrangement, with a long aluminium rudder making the paper oscillate in response to each eddy and current.


These motions are designed to give maximum freedom to the instrument to make drawings from the dynamic inputs of the river energy.

– Cameron Robbins


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