Virginia King, Reed Vessel, Docklands, 2004
Location: Encounter Way, Docklands Park
The airy, metaphorical form of 'Reed Vessel' is achieved through the joining of more than 300 stainless-steel pieces into a canoe form. It sits upon a cradle created by two louvered water screens, down which water gently flows and through which a fine mist is emitted. The screens are etched with the words of Australian writers and poets, quotations related to the river and the sea, to memory and the passing of time. A pedestrian bridge forms part of the work, taking passers-by across the pool and through the base of the cradle.
The maritime nature of the work acknowledges the history of the site and embraces the themes of migration, passage and survival. The area on which it is located was once extensive tidal wetlands, which provided abundant food and spiritual connections to the area for its traditional owners. The basket-like vessel also symbolises a container in which memories are held – memories of the undeveloped site and its traditional uses, but also of the ocean journeys that have brought early settlers and later generations of migrants to these shores.