In 2013, Canberra based film-maker Rob Nugent was commissioned by the Centenary of Canberra and Screen Australia to document the One River program as it unfolded. It wasn’t possible for him to visit all the artists and communities in their ten geographically diverse locations to see their project evolving, so he chose the ones that were a workable distance from Canberra. [See below for the link to the film].
Rob’s initial challenge was to consider how all the diverse themes and locations might be linked in a film. “I thought that community-sponsored civic fountains somehow spoke to a need to corral water and mark civilisation in some way,” Rob said. “As I drove around, I started seeing more and more of them, big and small.”
Another difficulty with documenting a project that covered one-fifth of the land mass of Australia was adequately doing justice to the involvement of the artists with their communities. As One River gathered momentum and the local projects were presented in each community, the project documentation, blogs, photos and films were gradually uploaded to the One River website by the artists, and Rob’s focus was able to shift to a more personal response to his commission. “It was great to be given a fairly open brief so that I could figure out my own way into representing the project. That was very generous of the Centenary and the One River folk,” Rob said.
As someone who grew up in Albury, the site of one of the greatest interventions in the river system (Hume Weir), it was natural that he would want to explore his personal connection with the project here. “Every kid in Albury spends a fair bit of time at Noriel Park. It was nostalgic to go back there with Vicky [one of the three Albury artists]. It was naturally always going to make it into the film somehow.”
Apart from some wonderful footage of Noriel Park today, with different teenagers doing pretty much the same thing, Rob has captured the Canberra project One River On Air, with Moya Simpson conducting the choir as they accompany carillonist Lyn Fuller playing a composition by John Shortis, written for this project, and Murray Bridge artist Heidi Kenyon in her wonderful floating camera obscura, created for the final outcome at the Belconnen Arts Centre on 26 August 2013.
You can view his film, One River Redux, here: