Dam Works – Forms of Order 2

The New England region is known as an inland higher rainfall area, at least by Australian measures, but winter and spring of 2013 were unusually dry.

By November 2013, two smaller dams on LandArtFarm were empty, and long, hot, rainless summer months meant, for the first time, I was able to walk on the baked deep dam mud – opportunities for dam land art.

This uncommon weather circumstance offered a rare chance for constructing simple land art works in and near the dry dams – working at fast pace, hoping each day for heavy rain, encouraged by visions of art works hopefully soon to be surrounded and supported by lapping water – and then difficult to enhance or repair.

Forms of Order 1.2014

Forms of Order – Dam Art II. 1. 2014 … Ram Dam

Forms of Order 2 – Ram Dam installation. In the smallest pond, ‘Ram Dam’, grass and reeds grew rapidly even as the last of water evaporated, providing some protection for frogs, fish and insects burrowing into the partly sheltered mud.

The lush grass was also supporting hungry kangaroos and without rain, was eaten short by February 2014, with the dam mud fast drying.

Then in drought, wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies, as well as many birds, were leaving for who knows where. Each day was quieter, hot and still, with record temperatures.

This piece adds contrasting shapes and colours to the form of the man-made dam and the pond micro-environment.

forms of order sjw reload 2

Land art underway, 2014.

The galvanised fence posts are more or less ordered, marching to the north, led by the tallest of course. Mass produced plastic balls, in toning white, orange and yellow, are meant to float in their own order on the water, amid the reeds and grass clumps, around the posts.

The sun soon started to fade the orange flag strips to matching yellow. The coloured balls are exposed to animal paws, sun, and other deteriorating forces. More will be added, when the dam refills, to complete this land art work.

Art and Time … update 7.2014 and 1.2015. Only light rain in the 2014-15 summer means the paddocks are green but the small dams are still empty. Ram Dam has held water only one week in the last 90 (and many frogs took this chance to procreate). Sandra Welsman


For a few days – 11.2014

… update 6.2017. Last spring and summer were, wetter than ‘normal’ and both dams and art pieces are taking the forms envisaged years back when work started in the dry. In Ram Dam, more often a velvet spread of green grass fills the hollow. Coloured balls rest on top. Looks good.

Inspirations, Variations

Andy Goldsworthy – Forked sticks in water 1979

Gerry Barry – Land Art Installations, Ireland

Floating balls in Japanese Pond