Overview Foreword Introduction Essays

Artists Venues

One Foot On The Ground—
One Foot In The Water

Nell, Mother of the Dry Tree (detail), 2017, acrylic paint and mixed media on linen, wood, 296.5 × 223 cm. Courtesy of the artist and STATION, Melbourne and Sydney. Photo: Jenni Carter

Artists: Catherine Bell Timothy Cook Richard Lewer French & Mottershead Mabel Juli Sara Morawetz Michael Needham Nell Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri Nawurapu Wunuŋmurra

At a time when many are experiencing complex feelings about the frailty of life and future uncertainty, this exhibition explores the subject of mortality and the inseparable link between life and death. 

One foot on the ground, one foot in the water explores mortality as a state of transition, presenting processes of art making as a means of facing death collectively and individually. 

The exhibition presents paintings, sculptures, installations and sound works, that challenge us to reckon with death and dying as an inherent part of life, invoking experiences of loss, impermanence, transience, remembrance, memorialisation and varied expressions of grief. 

One foot on the ground, one foot in the water presents over 25 works of art, with scale ranging from a massive 3.3m cast-iron and steel monument by artist Michael Needham to 100 intricate handmade vessels crafted out of biodegradable florist foam by participants in Catherine Bell’s Facing Death Creatively workshops. 

The contrast between vast and minute scales is echoed in the contrast between singular and repeated forms, and ephemeral and permanent materials, referencing the relationship between the universal and the individual, the eternal, the finite and states in between. 

Each artist offers insight into the way we let go of the dead, or hold them close, as a continuing living presence in the world. Artworks and other objects can reflect these kinds of present–absences, allowing the departed to continue to resonate in our memory, and in objects that outlive them. 

One Foot on the Ground, One Foot in the Water is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring six newly commissioned texts by Yinimala Gumana, Mabel Juli, Wukun Wanambi and Pedro Wonaeamirri. 

One foot on the ground, one foot in the water is a La Trobe Art Institute exhibition toured by NETS Victoria. Curated by Travis Curtin.   


This exhibition has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts,
its arts funding and advisory body, as well as receiving development assistance from NETS Victoria’s Exhibition Development Fund, supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.