‘The Painted River Project’ brings together art and science for a lesson in ecology

Western Sydney University design and water researchers have combined art and science in an outdoor education day for Forest Lodge Public School students, who participated in The Painted River Project at Johnstons Creek, an urban waterway in Sydney’s inner west.

As part of the project, more than 40 year six students attended the event to capture the creek on canvas and learn about the local ecology as part of National Science Week.

Founder of the project, and well respected artist, Dr Leo Robba from the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, said the idea was to highlight the importance of preserving and improving river and water catchments in the Sydney region through community engagement and education.

“It was an absolute joy to see so many students come down to Johnstons Creek. Each student really thought about what the creek had looked like in its natural state, and what it could look like in the future,” said Dr Robba.

“After exploring and painting the creek, the students better understood the need for conservation. They came up with their own unique ideas on how to return it to a more natural state.”

Dr Ian Wright, a water ecologist and partner in the project from the School of Science, was on hand to share insights into the water quality and local ecology of the creek.

“The event was a great opportunity to help the students understand what a healthy creek should look like,” said Dr Wright.

“In talking about some of the tell-tale signs, we compared samples of water bugs from a clean creek north of Sydney to Johnstons Creek.”

The student artworks are set to inspire a future mural on a nearby wall to be designed by the University’s Visual Communication students. Supported by the City of Sydney Council, the mural will be part of Sydney Water’s broader project to naturalise and revitalise Johnstons Creek.

For more information on The Painted River Project, visit the web page (opens in a new window).


24 August 2020

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer