Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Murray Darling Currency Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Regular readers will know of my interest in water; its cost, allocation, various uses, infrastructure, entitlements, and so on. Water is a very significant issue in Australia, as it is all over the world. Each locale has its own particular issues, but the overarching ones are about sustainability and equitable access, not only for us now, but also for future generations.

The new painting above is one that has been percolating in my thoughts for some time. As many readers will know, the Murray Darling Basin and its water, having attracted major debate and argument over the years, are currently under another review. This is generating even more heated debate between the various players, including farmers, government departments, basin townships. The debate also obviously touches the wider community through the environmental, economic, social and business ramifiactions of any review that sees water allocations for agricultural use restricted. Here's a link to the Murray Darling Basin Authority website http://www.mdba.gov.au/

But, to the word 'currency' which I have previously discussed in an earlier post; http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com/2009/06/currency-of-water.html  I have called this new painting 'Murray Darling Currency' to suggest not only the currency/flow of water, but also the currency/flow of money which is generated by the economic outcomes of this vastly rich resource. As well, there is the idea that this issue is current, thus 'currency' is also about notions of contemporaneousness with other allied and non-allied issues of national and global importance. The word 'currency' also alludes the Murray Darling's power to generate political currency.

Now to the painting...the dark blue area in Australia's bottom right is the demarcation of the Murray Darling Basin. I have painted it with an array of small blue $ signs. From a distance they are not clearly discernible, but when observed up close, they are clearly visible. Regular readers will recognise that this play with close and far distance/perspective asks questions about how much do we notice, and ultimately care about and value. Australia and its surrounding oceans are painted with my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life, to indicate that life is interconnected and that perhaps notions of value include, but are far more than $ value.

The painting below 'GAB: Great Artesian Basin', is another recent painting which is similar to 'Murray Darling Currency'. Here's the link to the post I wrote with some thought about this 'GAB: Great Artesian Basin':

I am reading a book called 'Water: The Epic Struggle For Wealth, Power, and Civilization' by Steven Solomon [Harper Collins, NY, 2010]. I have not yet finished...indeed not even half way through. It is fascinating. I knew as soon as I started reading this book, that its incisive message was going to be that we need to take water seriously...very seriously. I quote from the prologue, 'The lesson of history is that in the tumultuous adjustment that surely lies ahead, those societies that find the most innovative responses to the crisis are most likely to come out as winners, while the others will fall behind. Civilization will be shaped as well by water's inextricable, deep interdependence with energy, food, and climate change.' [p.5]

Hopefully political currency will not blind powerbrokers to the extreme importance decisions about water will have, not only for us now, but also for future generations. Just like the human body, our planet Earth  is 70% water. However, only 2.5% of this water is fresh, and a small % of this is accessible. [Solomon p.9, 12] As I have written before, water is so much more than just a substance which keeps us and Earth physically alive. It is also a primordial symbol of the continuation and flow of life over time eternal. It is a symbol of the subconscious, and as such, holds secrets we are yet to discover. Now that's some kind of currency!


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