Invited onboard his ‘spirit vessel’ to travel with him up river, Joshua Yeldham takes us on an intimate journey along the Hawkesbury, into his inner world of prayers and secret offerings. As much a passage through time as in consciousness, this new work draws its energy from the fresh and vital connectivity of water. The stark seclusion of the desert is replaced by the thriving kinship of the river. With bird-guides in tow, we are passengers and spectators privy to a kind of sacred theatre, set within the watery domain of an attentive, poetic adventurer. In search of blessings and hidden powers, this river has become his personal source of ancient knowledge and a living connection to the natural world. Yeldham’s work is animated, almost shamanistic in its intentions, promising to cure dislocation and find hope in a tangible sense of place. His visual ‘cycle play’ engages eternal themes of life and death, change and constancy, darkness and light, accessed through a process of private contemplation. Referencing fertility rites and devotional ceremonies inspired by Eastern mystical traditions, this artist articulates an ongoing metaphoric dialogue with the forces of nature, allowing us to experience art as a cleansing process, using a poignant form of visual eloquence to which we can relate.
Excerpt from Hawkesbury River: Motherland (2008) catalogue essay by Rosa Maria Falvo