The 1% Poo Tour

Tuesday the 26th February, the beginning of Drawing Week and the day I with about fifteen other art students caught a bus to Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d spent a considerable amount of time (since the end of January) imagining what a sewerage works might actually be like; smelly, noisy, full to the brim with poo and populated with diligent hazmat and high viz wearing workers. What it was like, was quite different than I expected.
We walked in single fine, wearing high viz green vests with TOUR emblazoned on them, along the renewable walk. The site was vast, we walked up stairs and across gangways and down again. Seemed like we were walking for hours, it was so humid in all our layers. The hard hats fit awkwardly and I was starting to get thirsty.
There was no poo in sight. Only enormous vats of murky water, numerous pipes and empty tanks filled with old chains. The smell was more salty like the beach and mangroves or heavy rain than the foul odours associated with fecal matter or manure. The sterilised experience, the inner works hidden beyond our sight.
We couldn’t help but notice that there were things growing in some of the tanks and thick spider webs covering pipes, it felt like we were exploring a modern ruin. That there weren’t any other human workers around but we were told not to worry “as probes were constantly monitoring the situation”, only adding to the feeling of being in an alien place. Far from other people, surrounded by industrial equipment and the thick vegetation that not only surrounded the sewage plant but had started to grow in it. Bringing to mind horror fiction of robot, alien and plant revolutions or evolutions. The quiet of the place only heightened the eerie quality.

After the excursion my mind was buzzing but lacking direction, after some sewage and artist research, as a way to collect my thoughts and continue pursuing my interest in sewage I’ve started this blog project. I don’t want to just focus on my visit to Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant, as a secure sight it is hard to access, it is only the starting point.

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