Public artists working with nature in suburban Fairfield
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Art, for us, has the potential power to activate the soul, the conscience and the imagination of society. We are public artists working with nature in the urban and suburban contexts. The topic of the paper is an environment rehabilitation project in Fairfield, in western Sydney, called Restoring the Waters. The project is to restore Clear Paddock Creek, currently a concrete storm water canal in Sydney's western suburbs, to a natural creek. To engage the community through our role as artists, the concept of the ‘Memory Line’ was created. It is a 3 kilometre long ephemeral environmental artwork. With the high school students, we organised site visits and worked with them to create environmental artworks to be exhibited on site. With primary students we focused on habitat loss and we began by helping them to imagine the creek that had gone. The spirit of the project was distilled to one theme - In the Stream - one large-scale work of the native fauna that had returned to inhabit its rightful place along the creek line. It was a 50-metre long installation of over 400 wetland creatures made by hundreds of local school children. The art project creatively elaborated on the relationship, rather than the schism, between the cultures of ‘nature’ and ‘suburbia’.