Connecting with our River – Art Project

In early 2020, Northern Rivers artist Annique Goldenberg (right) will be visiting the Cathedral to invite staff and congregation to participate in the creation of a sculptural installation unique to St Paul’s and the Yarra River. Annique, an environmentally focused artist working with the transformative and connective nature of water, is creating a series of very large handmade pieces of river-paper with different communities around the country, quite literally using river water to create experiences in the environment where we can connect with each other and our rivers.

Taking part in the creation of the river-paper installation will involve all your senses – apart from taste maybe! The community of St Paul’s will be invited to each collect a jam jar of water from the Yarra River, donate an article of cotton or linen fabric and record a short conversation between yourself and the river. The 8-metre x 2-metre piece of hand-paper for St Paul’s Cathedral will be made using this water, old damaged prayer sheets and hymnals from the Cathedral, and the pulped clothing, literally as well as metaphorically combining our community with the river. The short messages will be used to create a soundtrack with recordings collected from the river itself.

St Paul’s Cathedral sits in the heart of Melbourne close to the banks of the Yarra River, or Birrarung (river of mists) as it is named in the Woiwurrung language of the Kulin Nation. The river winds between buildings, under bridges and out to the bay beyond, the lifeline of the land, connecting, cleansing and replenishing as it flows, vital to the health of our ecosystems. Yarra (from yarro yarro meaning fast flowing water or waterfall in the Boon Wurrung language) refers to a waterfall that existed under the current Queen St bridge. For thousands of years this waterfall was an important place of connection and point of crossing for the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people.

References to the connective, transformative and healing powers of water and rivers are also found frequently throughout Christian teachings, and it feels fitting and opportune that the final work will be installed in late February in the Macartney Chapel, under the stained glass window depicting the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman collecting water at the well (John 4:1-42).

There will be information sessions from the artist about the project on Sunday 12 January after each morning service. Please come along to hear more and register your interest to participate in creating this piece for the Cathedral, the river, and our community.

If you missed the information sessions, please email your email address to to be added to the mailing list.

Annique’s Doctoral Research at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, is investigating how, in this time of climate change overwhelm, the act of artistic creation in the environment can enable ways to reconnect us with nature and each other through empathy and inclusion. Her methods examine how we can communicate and value “partnership with” over “control of” our extraordinary environment as a regenerative way forward.