Falling Fence by John Gollings & Samantha Slicer

Falling Fence

John Gollings with Samantha Slicer 2001

Extending the traditions formed in the 1970s of earthworks and environmental art, 'Falling Fence' is the first major sculptural work by internationally acclaimed Melbourne based photographer John Gollings and his assistant Samantha Slicer. The work has been designed specifically for its site on the Northern bank of the island. Its compatibility with the environs will only be enhanced through further native planting and the mellowing of the cypress pine timber as, over time, it merges and is absorbed into the landscape.
To be officially launched in October 2001, 'Falling Fence' is the latest permanent addition to the Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park, joining work by Robert Bridgewater, Julie Collins, John Davis, Andy Goldsworthy, Ellen José, Robert Jacks and Jill Peck.
Funded by the Friends of Herring Island
Photograph by John Gollings

Scaled Stem by Robert BridgewaterDetails of  Scaled Stem by Robert Bridgewater

Scaled Stem

Robert Bridgewater 1999

Melbourne sculptor Robert Bridgewater, was chosen to design and install another sculpture for the 1999 Melbourne Festival. A sinuous form detailed with intricate patterning carved in cypress macrocarpa, "Scaled Stem" can be linked with a budding plant, a club, a fishing float, kitchen utensil or scientific apparatus. Bridgewater states that the work "is part of a continuing line of enquiry concerned largely with relationships between form, pattern, craft and material and the poetic associations that can be evoked via these relationships". The organic worked textures of "Scaled Stem" highlight "an inseparability and interdependence between notions of nature and culture".

ramp by Robert Jacks


Robert Jacks 1998

Victorian sculptor Robert Jacks, was chosen to design and install another sculpture for the 1998 Melbourne Festival. Constructed of red gum, "Ramp' responds and relates to the tranquil environment of the island and the demanding urban dimension of the freeway across the river.

audience by Julie Collins


Julie Collins 1997

Created exclusively from bluestone taken from the tunnel under the Yarra River, Melbourne sculptor Julie Collins' work is intended to welcome visitors upon arrival at the jetty landing. Ambiguous carvings of strange creatures at times reminiscent of native animals and birds present a silent audience for visitors, whom the artist believes become performers when they enter the arena.

Hill, River, 2 rocks and Presence The new River

A Hill, a River, Two Rocks and a Presence.

John Davis 1997

Working in an open grassed area, Melbourne sculptor John Davis has combined the elements of water, timber, vegetation and limestone. These elements are found in the natural landscape and provide a sense of place and recognition of the island's source.

The original river (pictured on the left) was made of tree branches with ripples coming up from them. These were damaged and John Davis replaced them with the sandstone river pictured on the right.

Cairn by Andy GoldsworthyKookaburra atop the Cairn


Andy Goldsworthy 1997

The only natural valley on the island was set aside for British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy's two works. The first work, a cairn constructed from Castlemaine slate, independent of its site and yet marking his journey to Melbourne.

Stone House by Andy GoldsworthyA resident lizard in the Stone House

Stone House

Andy Goldsworthy 1997

The stone house was made from Dunkeld sandstone in a similar way to the artist's renowned ephemeral works, from his response to the site and objects found there. The artist believes this work is most powerful from a distance, and that it emphasises the sense of discovery and concealment that an island holds for him.

Steerage by Jill Peck


Jill Peck 1997

Canberra sculptor Jill Peck has created a large scale Harcourt granite boat form at the westernmost point of the island as a metaphor for journeys, water and knowledge. A path leads up a bank between two mounds to reveal this unexpected resting place for contemplation. The prow of the sculpture and the prow of the Island point downstream towards the city's horizon.

Tanderrum by Ellen José


Ellen José 1997

Aboriginal culture emphasises the land, water and sky as central to the spirit of the Australian landscape and part of the living spiritual domain. Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander artist Ellen José and Joy Murphy, Wurundjeri Tribal Elder, have imagined a vision for the creation of flight. Tanderrum (coming together) brings together concepts of pride, culture and spirit, and symbolises the coming together of the Kulin nation as one people.

Detail of Tanderrum by Ellen JoséConstructed of Mt. William greenstone, Castlemaine slate, and redbox (the wood). The greenstone was used for axe-heads by Aboriginals prior to the arrival of Europeans in Australia. The axe-heads were traded between Aboriginal groups in South Eastern Australia. The sculpture was renovated in January 2008.

An account of the Tanderrum ceremony, written by William Thomas during the 1840s.

Ceremony of Tanderrum, or Freedom of the Bush. There is not, perhaps, a more pleasing sight in a native encampment than when strange blacks arrive who have never been in the country before. Each comes with fire in hand (always bark), which is supposed to purify the air - the women and children in one direction, and the men and youths in another. They are ushered in generally by some of an intermediate tribe, who are friends of both parties, and have been engaged in forming an alliance or friendship between the tribes; the aged are brought forward and introduced. The ceremony of Tanderrum is commenced; the tribe visited may be seen lopping boughs from one tree and another, as varied as possible of each tree with leaves; each family has a separate seat, raised about 8 or 10 inches from the ground, on which in the centre sits the male and around him his male children, and the female and her sex of children have another seat.

Two fires are made, one for the males and the other for the females. The visitors are attended on the first day by those whose country they are come to visit, and not allowed to do anything for themselves; water is brought them which is carefully stirred by the attendant with a reed, and then given them to drink (males attend males and females females ); victuals are then brought and laid before them, consisting of as great a variety as the bush in the new country affords, if come-at-able; during this ceremony the greatest silence prevails, both by attendants and attended. You may sometimes perceive an aged man seated, the tear of gratitude stealing down his murky, wrinkled face. At night their mia-mias are made for them; conversation, &c., ensue. The meaning of this is a hearty welcome. As the boughs on which they sit are from various trees, so they are welcome to every tree in the forest. The water stirred with a reed means that no weapon shall ever be raised against them. On Saturday, the 22nd March 1845, at an encampment east of Melbourne, near 200 strangers arrived. The sight was imposing and affecting, especially their attendance upon that old chief Kuller Kullup, the oldest man I have ever seen among the blacks; he must have been near 80 years.



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Text - "Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park" by Gollings + Pidgeon
Photos by Stanley Barker & Damian Curtain

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