Most years I make something to enter into the Nelson ‘Changing Threads’ Exhibition. This year I was lucky enough to get one piece accepted, but the second piece I entered was declined. I thought I could put it up here, with the written description, as I feel it has an important, although not new, message.



“DOWNSTREAM” We have a beautiful creek as one boundary to our place. It is spring fed, flowing out of the range behind us,& then meandering through farmland. It crosses under the road & then transforms into a swirling, bubbling stream, running between steep, 7m high banks.

In this secret world there are waterfalls & limestone creations, ferns & fungi, Shining Cuckoos & Grey Warblers. There are eels, freshwater crayfish & mussels.

Sometimes now, the water runs brown, upstream cows wade in the shallows & defecate. We ponder the possibility of run off from farms further away too. Over the last few years we have noticed more & more algae collecting in the lower pools, so much so that we rarely glimpse the eels & crayfish.

Our creek is a precious resource to us & our neighbours. Not only because it supplements our household water in Summer droughts, but also because generations of children have played & explored it’s cool depths. For us it is a living entity, a whole, tiny ecosystem  on our doorstep.

There are many small watercourses that feed into the creek when it’s not a drought, some are mere winding trickles. These are where the cows paddle, & it appears it is not practical or viable to fence them off.

“Downstream’ is a comment on this situation, I harvested weed from the lower pools & layered it, leaving it to dry in the sun. After much deliberation & experimenting with the sheet of weed I had created, I decided to try & sew ‘drops of water’ onto it.

I’m not a good seamstress at the best of times, & I used my Mum’s old machine. Somehow it worked OK & I am pleased with the result. My Mother was horrified that I hadn’t trimmed the loose ends of cotton, but I think they enhance the sense of flow. Luckily while  Mum was distracted by the cottons she  didn’t note that I had been sewing pondweed with her machine!


We subscribe to a magazine called the Bay Buzz, & in the latest edition, there was a very pertinent article, by David Trubridge, called ‘What’s in a Name?’

I don’t think it’s available online yet, so I shall quote a little…

“To some farmers that flow of water is a drain: to someone who loves nature, it is a stream. The drain name is dismissive, denying it’s intrinsic value. It is something opened with a digger to remove inconvenient water from land that is used for business. the farmer owns it.

To call it a stream gives it significance. It is not just a means of directing water; it is a whole ecosystem in itself, supporting thousands of different life forms, and is a vital part of a larger ecosystem including the farm.”

Many thanks, David for exploring some of the issues that affect our precious waterways.