Victoria Cooper

'Rio Vista : Aqua Vista'

Artist Books

The magnificent 19th century mansion Rio Vista, situated on the banks of the Murray, was built on the prosperity provided by the waterway it surveys.

The 1800s abounded with romantic notions of exploration, exploitation and scientific discovery. It was in this environment that WB Chaffey not only built 'Rio Vista' but also laid the foundations for the region’s development and its reliance on a steady supply of water from the Murray. The house stands as a tribute to this history, but there is another history linked to the same water system that began long before human habitation.

In my current work I have embarked on a new exploration; to search and capture a creature of the water environment, visually elusive by scale, but existing for millennia: aquatic fungi.

My expedition begins a thousand kilometres upstream at the source of the Condamine River, then ventures deeper, into the microscopic forest within the stream. Once trapped and captured, I bring back specimens, using the microscope to explore this alien and hidden landscape; revealing an infinite number of living organisms all living off one decaying leaf.

Removed from their natural habitat, my captive creatures take on a different meaning in the dark, quiet corridors of 'Rio Vista'. Emanating from the house’s darkest corners and creeping from the torn wallpaper edges, apparitions engender connections between the house and the ancient watery environment.