Janet Laurence Water Bar

What does water taste like? Does water have a language? What if it stopped? These are just some of the questions Sydney-born artist Janet Laurence addresses with H2O Water Bar, her atmospheric installation at Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

Part of Art & About Sydney, the artist’s reflective work allows you to sample water sourced from various regions of Australia, in addition to a diverse public program brimming with exciting talks and performances. Through her artwork and curation, Laurence hopes to emphasise the presence and instability of water. To do so, she connects this ubiquitous and essential, but often unnoticed element with history, politics and poetics.

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Laurence has been fascinated by the natural world and its relationship with people throughout her career. “[Nature] has always been a force for my work. The more I worked with it, the more I realised how important it is that we understand the fragility of it,” says Janet, who spends a lot of time researching issues around conservation. “We can’t live without water. The political issue of water is global. We’re not realising this enough here [in Sydney] – we think we have plenty of water, but in future we may not. Mining, pollution and climate change are affecting our supply.”

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Janet invites people to taste the differences in water in order to understand that it has its own history, being and personality. It’s a call to think about where water comes from and a reminder to stay connected to different issues around its fragility across the country. H20 Water Bar is set in the cool caverns of the Paddington Reservoir Gardens, within an inner chamber which is not usually open to the public.

Don’t miss the series of events curated by Janet Laurence. Here are our picks:

  • Bubbling up: A forum focusing on the impacts of coal seam gas on groundwater, including speakers from affected areas
    (Thursday 18 February, 6-8pm)
  • The future of water: A panel of commentators including Robyn Williams, science journalist and broadcaster of The Science Show and Ockham’s Razor on Radio National; Cynthia Mitchell, Deputy Director and Professor of Sustainability, Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS, Gay Hawkins, Research Professor, Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University and Kaia Hodge, Manager City Futures at Sydney Water. This panel is followed by a screening of Planet Water (1989)
    (Thursday, 25 February, 6-8pm)
  • Sydney Water Family Program: A series of educational events that use a model to demonstrate to kids how water reaches their taps and hands-on experiments that show them why it’s great for keeping them hydrated
    (Saturday 13, 20 and 27 February, 3-5pm)

For more information about H2O: Water Bar, visit City of Sydney’s What’s On website.

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