Imbás: a well at the bottom of the sea
for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney: rīvus in 2022


The Curatorium
Artistic Director José Roca
Paschal Daantos Berry
Anna Davis
Hannah Donnelly
Talia Linz

Photos below by Jessica Maurer

Teinm Laeda (part 1), 2022, 1170 x 1270 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades.

Teinm Laeda (part 2), 2022, 1170 x 1270 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades.


Dacelo moons: dichétal di chennaib, 2022, 1065 x 1065 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades.


Filid, 2022, 1170 x 1170 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades.

Eithliu: glas gabhan, 2022, 1065 x 1065 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades. 

Imbás forosna  (part 1), 2022, 1370 x 1370 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades. 

Imbás forosna  (part 2), 2022, 1370 x 1370 mm, oil on toughened glass, frame in reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades. 

A for ailm
Anamain and brethugud
Breaking open of poems and diligent teaching
Cethri srotha d.c .icsi
Co.r
Comgne and genelach
Dichetal do chennaib
Dychymig dychymig
E for eadha
Enech
Fele and innruccus
Fili
Filid
Fourteen streams of scholarship
Grand-daughter of the sea
Great knowledge and chanting
Great knowledge of enlightenment
History and genealogy
I for idho
Idna beoil and foglomma
Idna l.me and lanamnais
Imb.s forasnai
Imb.s greine
Immas and dichetal
Metre and judgement
Morrigan
O for onn
Ollamh
Ollave
Palm-knowledge of enlightenment
Poetry likes making patterns
Purity of the hand and partnership
Purity of the mouth and learning
Rakali
Recital from the finger tips
Reciting from heads
Science and integrity
Seer
S.nann
Spiaire
Sruth
Sweet cauldron of the five trees
Taken the heart out of a good field
The well of the generous woman
Teinm laeda and ler forcetail
Tree alphabet
U for ura
Imbás: a well at the bottom of the sea, 2022
silk hangings, framed suspended glass paintings, suspended copper cauldrons; Ahimsa (peace) silk, hand-dyed with natural fermented indigo, reused textiles, metal and wood, hemp flax shipping rope, reused copper cauldrons, new and reused climbing rope and hardware, reused artworks (wax, pigment, fabric, ink, timber, seeds, resin, insect exoskeletons), reclaimed Eucalyptus oreades, toughened glass, oil, sound

with hangings featuring poems by Kevin Gilbert:
Tree, 1979
Earth Summit
hand-painted in acrylic on silk by Eleanor Gilbert
Collaborators and participants:
Annette McKinley – botanist/ecologist
David Milledge – zoologist/ecologist
Carla dal Forno – sound artist
Eleanor Gilbert – activist/artist/ecologist
Félicia Atkinson – sound artist (FR)
Kevin Gilbert – Wiradjuri artist, author and activist
Lachlan Bell – textile artist/studio assistant
Lisa Dwyer – artist/studio assistant
Nan Nicholson – botanist/ecologist
Robert Curulli – sound artist and programmer
Snack Syndicate – artists/poets
Tess Allas – Wiradjuri curator/artist
Tom Smith – sound artist
The Story Archaeologists – academic/storytelling (IE)

Soundtrack:
Main track:
Félicia Atkinson, ENTRE LES MAREES, 2022 (22:06 mins)
overlayed with fieldwork recordings triggered by the tidal depth of the Warrang/Sydney harbour
Programming and sound design by Rob Curulli and Tom Smith
Audio recordings by The Story Archaeologists, Kevin Gilbert, Nan Nicholson, Annette McKinley, Tess Allas and Clare Milledge.
Editing by Clare Milledge, additional contributions tba.

Feature playlist:
10am: Kevin Gilbert, Tree, 1979 (1:12 mins)
11am: Tess Allas, The Separation, 2021 (1:12 mins)
12pm: Kevin Gilbert, New True Anthem, 1988 (1:26 mins)
1pm: Snack Syndicate and Tom Smith, Dispatch, 2022 (9:14 mins)
2pm: Félicia Atkinson, ENTRE LES MAREES, 2022 (22:06 mins)
3pm: Carla dal Forno, Stay Awake, 2022 (4:09 mins)
4pm: Snack Syndicate and Tom Smith, Dispatch, 2022 (9:14 mins)
5pm (after hours): Carla dal Forno, Stay Awake, 2022 (4:09 mins)

Courtesy the artist & STATION
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts
“‘Imbas’ on its own is often taken to stand for ‘imbas forosna’, great knowledge which illuminates.  As well as the name of a metre, it is also described as a technique associated with the highest grades of poets.” – Isolde ÓBrolcháin Carmody 
The installation Imbás: a well at the bottom of the sea draws on the Story of Sinann, an Old Irish story/dindshenchas about the forming of the river Sinnan/Shannon. In the story, the woman Sinnan, a highly accomplished poet seeks imbás/inspiration. She journeys to a well at the bottom of the sea, surrounded by nine musical, magical hazel trees; there she draws imbás from the well in the form of bubbles released by the resident wise salmon, who chew on the hazelnuts fallen from the trees. This imbás/inspiration, previously jealously guarded by magicians is then released for the benefit of the community and forms the river Sinnan. 
The connection between rivers, inspiration, poetry, truth-telling and ecology is explored in this work. Suspended glass paintings evoke the story of Sinann using poetic techniques; nine cauldrons stand in for the nine hazel trees at the well; and research notes appear as text on silk fragments. Music and voices of poets and ecologists are combined in a complex sound work triggered by the depth of the water under the floorboards of Pier 2/3. 
– Clare Milledge, artist statement, 2022 
Liquid Languages
Our pre and post exhibition learning resources Liquid Languages enable students to connect with the key themes of rīvus ahead of and following their exhibition visit. Liquid Languages encourages students to channel new knowledge from their experience of rīvus into local environments.  

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body