It’s important to allow exploration of the wide range of perspectives and subject matter that is available to artists in respect of the river’s story. – Jodi Newcombe, Carbon Arts

GASP and Carbon Arts joined forces on an ambitious cross sector collaboration for Swimmable! Reading the River. Swimmable! is a bold program addressing issues arising from Elwick Bay’s poor water quality: once a popular swimming spot, it is now “un-swimmable’’.

The program is a collaboration between artists, scientists, educators, environmentalists, industry and community. It was conceived by GASP with environmental arts organisation, Carbon Arts, as a 3 year project to deliver temporary and permanent, internationally resonant art in all forms. It serves to connect the local community and visitors to the health of the aquatic environment and introduce new ways of thinking about GASP and the immediate environment.

Artists include: Natalie Jeremijenko, James Geurts, Justy Phillips & Margaret Woodward, James Newitt, Janet Laurence & Tega Brain and Julie Gough

The program commenced in September 2014 with a Lab with 7 highly esteemed artists and environmental project partners. The project envisioned a series of thought provoking and original artworks situated at GASP and responding to the River Derwent developed over 3 years from 2015.

The multi-perspective approach to site by both the artists and scientists gave such a generous and inspired dimension to the Derwent River as a living body, complex and continual.

This sharing throughout the Lab kept opening up spaces around thinking and sensing the river in a deeper way. – James Geurts, artist

The project can be traced to 2009 when a 17-year-old student summarized the desire of her generation; to make the water swimmable again. Building on an inclusive community approach GASP has sought the involvement of best practice partners elevating the possibility of beautiful, thought provoking and intelligent outcomes based on strong knowledge beds and in-depth enquiry.

Partners include esteemed Australian artists, scientists, environmentalists and educators as well as the community including local schools that have come together on a voluntary basis to contribute to the concept.

Over the past two years we have undertaken targeted consultations including a half-day workshop in April 2013 where 23 participants representing the stakeholder groups (not including artists) established an approach for the further development as well as a process for engaging professional artists. This work led to the development of the Swimmable! Artists Lab held in September 2014.

The Lab was designed to foster processes of collaboration and encourage the early development of artwork concepts. Over four days it offered participants an immersive experience of the environmental and community context and introduced them to the wealth of supportive stakeholder organisations and resources available to develop emergent concepts.


Leading artists from around Australia (two currently residing internationally) were invited. They included; Janet Laurence, Justy phillips, Tega Brain, Julie Gough, Nigel Helyer, James Newitt and James Geurts. All of the artist’s work is provocative, contemporary and relevant. They are all boldly original and push the boundaries of their genre creating work that carries the potential to reshape the cultural landscape.

For details of the program, artists and project partners and further updates please see our tumblr site.

Read a full report on the Lab here.

As part of the Swimmable! program GASP are also working with Natalie Jeremijenko for a major commission at Elwick Bay.

GASP is gratefully acknowledges and thanks our many partners who are working with us to achieve Swimmable! including:

Ian Potter Foundation, Carbon Arts, Derwent Estuary Program, Glenorchy City Council, Aquenal, Marine Solutions, Sense-T, CSIRO, UTAS and Montrose Bay High School.

Technically the biggest issue for the Derwent at Elwick Bay, which makes the area less ‘swimmable’, is most likely water quality affected by urban runoff and nutrient inputs. – Lance Stapleton, TasWater

To experience the GASP Site from the river really invites a different way of relating to the site, the land and the river itself. This really brought to the fore, the fact that the river is a working river and that it remains a critical process of many of the industries that are situated along its riverbanks. – Justy Phillips, artist

Spending time at the site was really important. I experienced the restless atmosphere of the river and the park and how the site was connected to the surrounding community. The different perspectives from the week’s speakers and guests revealed the complexity of the river’s history in both a social and environmental sense. – Tega Brain, artist

The Swimmable Lab helped me to visualise and understand the River from a different contextual viewpoint. It expanded my understanding of its “function” as a system, to beyond functionality. – Sean Riley, Aquenal

Strong discussions at the end of the lab about data and information, what it is, how it can be used, how it can be interpreted and/or how it is interpreted by different groups, were stimulating. – Stewart Frusher, IMAS

I was excited by the various projects and possibilities that were raised, most in passing as tiny germinating mind sketches. – Julie Gough, artist

I think TasWater would be keen to continue some involvement with the project particularly as there are synergies with other projects we are carrying out such as the Greater Derwent Sewerage Strategy. – Lance Stapleton, TasWater

The multi-perspective approach to site by both the artists and scientists gave such a generous and inspired dimension to the Derwent River as a living body, complex and continual. This sharing throughout the Lab kept opening up spaces around thinking and sensing the river in a deeper way. – James Geurts, artist



Elwick Bay Foreshore
Brooker Highway 7010
Glenorchy Tasmania

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03 6216 6373

GASP Head Office – Glenorchy City Council
374 Main Road Glenorchy
Tasmania 7010

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Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park is a Not-for-Profit Australian Public Company Limited by Guarantee
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