Mitchell Harley, Nigel Helyer and Chris Drummond

Manly Dam Project exhibition now open

Mark Hoffman, Candy Bingham and Ian Turner at exhibition opening © Karen WatsonThe Manly Dam Project was officially opened at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum (MAG&M) on Friday 6 December, marking the beginning of a three-month public exhibition celebrating the rich biodiversity, culture and history of the Manly Dam area, that is also now a hub of national and international water engineering research. The exhibition features the work of eight contemporary Australian  artists specialising in a variety of media, who, throughout 2019,  have  been engaging with the area and water engineers from UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL), located at the University’s four-hectare Northern Beaches Campus at the base of Manly Dam. The exhibition features a diverse range of works that reflect the physical and cultural setting of the area surrounding the Dam and new perspectives on the water research activities conducted by the team at WRL.

Highlights of the evening included a very personal acknowledgement by Karen Smith, who reflected on her family’s connection with the area, and how the bushland surrounding the dam is a special place of healing.  Northern Beaches Council Deputy Mayor Cindy Bingham spoke of the particular pride local residents have in the area. The exhibition was formally opened by Professor Mark Hoffman, UNSW Dean of Engineering, who welcomed guests and noted that 2019 marks the 60th year that the University’s large-scale water research facilities have been located at Manly Dam. Prof Hoffman also used the opportunity to remark on the worldwide reputation of the staff and facilities at WRL, and the privilege that the Manly Dam Project has provided for the University to engage with the artists and local community.

Professor Ian Turner, WRL Director, who co-curated the exhibition along with MAG&M Senior Curator Katherine Roberts, said how pleased he was to see more than 250 people attending the public exhibition opening.

“Sometimes in our professional lives it is exciting to deliberately place ourselves well outside our regular comfort zones. As the laboratory turns 60 this year, it has stimulated us to think from a new perspective about the wider impacts of the work we undertake at WRL,” he said.

MG&M is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, with the Manly Dam Project exhibition now on display until Sunday 23 February.  Entry to the exhibition is free. The gallery is located at West Esplanade Reserve, Manly, a picturesque three-minute walk from Manly Ferry Wharf.


Pictured above: Mitchell Harley, Nigel Helyer and Chris Drummond

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