River Derwent Heavy Metals Project

Tackling the problem of heavy metals pollution in the River Derwent.

Investigators

  • Ross Brewin
    Dr Alysia Bennett
    Professor Callum Morton
    Monash Art, Design and Architecture
  • A/Professor Kit Wise
  • Kirsha Kaechele
    Steve Devereaux
    Nick O’Halloran
    Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
  • Dr Catriona Macleod
    Dr Christine Coughanowr
    Dr Ruth Eriksen
    Professor Peter Davies
    Bronagh Kelly
    UTAS

Co-investigators

  • Peter Fellicetti
    Structural Engineering (Wall)
  • Dr Vicki Gardiner
  • Scott Parkinson
  • Shellfish Culture
  • Engineers Australia
    Engineering (Hatchery)
  • Unique Earth
    Rammed Earth
  • Steven Little Constructions
    Concrete and Steel
  • Cordwell Lane
    Timber
  • Aeden Howlett
    Table Construction
  • MEGS lighting
    Lighting
  • Tasmanian Oyster Company
    Basket and Shell suppliers
  • Zsolt Faludi
    Cadmium tiles

Partner organisation

  • Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)

It requires a creative approach because we don't know what to do…We are essentially taking a depressing problem with no obvious solution and turning it into an opportunity for artists, architects and scientists to come together and see what innovative solutions they can create.

Kirsha Kaechele, Project Founder, Tasmania Times, 3/10/13

The Heavy Metals Project is a community and environment focused initiative facilitated by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) that aims to raise public awareness of and provide creative solutions to, the problems associated with the extensive heavy metal pollution of the River Derwent in Hobart, Tasmania. Operating at the nexus of architecture, art and science, the project plays three key roles; it communicates the pollution problem to the public; it actively contributes to the remediation of the contamination by providing a kind of storage site for extracted pollutants; and it provides a hub for the MONA summer market.

Heavy metals are extracted from the river by a troop of oysters that are placed into the Derwent. Once removed, the oysters are heroically encased into a concrete brick and then placed into the concrete ‘waffle’ walls. In the middle of the wall is a ‘tomb’ that slowly darkens as more oysters are placed into the holes of the concrete panels, becoming a reflective space to consider the effects of humans on the natural environment and the role that natural biological systems can make in the remediation of pollution problems.