Swamp Gospel @ AGWA

Swamp Gospel @ Art Gallery of Western Australia

"Swamp Gospel is a new sound work by Mei Saraswati. Created with the research expertise of wetland ecologist Jacqueline Giles, the work features Giles' recordings of long-necked turtle calls and sounds of underwater invertebrates. 

Swamp Gospel is an ode to the former wetland and lake site on which the Art Gallery is situated. Audiences will sonically travel either up or down the water column in AGWA's new vertical sound gallery, immersed in melodic collaboration between species and the orchestral noise of biological activity. 

At the bottom, the visitor will feel rumbling of the bass tones of swirling water from the Swan River. Travelling up, you’ll hear the percussive and melodic calls of Chelodina Colliei (Long-necked Turtle) which is only found in the South-West corner of WA. Just under the surface you’ll hear choruses of underwater invertebrates from Blue Gum Lake, Lake Leschenaultia and Piney Lake, before resurfacing on the first floor to field recordings taken from Joondalup, Smith’s Lake, Hyde Park and Maylands boat yard. You’ll hear black cockatoos, honey-eaters, willy-wagtails and motorbike frogs. Human music is threaded throughout the piece, as a gesture suggesting humans are not all that separate from other livings beings. 

The work is a reimagining of a place we never knew, that was drained and buried. Sometimes the water creeps back up around the building site of Yagan Square, a pump lies under Wellington Street and the Myer’s basement floods occasionally. Lake Kingsford, named after the man who drained it, lies mostly where the Perth train station is. 

Swamp Gospel invites the audience to hush their voices and be immersed in the biophony of the swamp, to perhaps get a better understanding of the intensity of biological activity and vibrancy of other living beings that our senses often do not perceive."