Alluvial Gold

Presented by Perth Festival in association with Goolugatup Heathcote and Tura New Music
7pm, Wed 10 to Sat 13 Feb 2021

Program Notes can be found here 

Louise Devenish. Photo by Karl Ockelford

Alluvial Gold brings a visceral drama to the often-forgotten worlds below the surface of the river. Sculptural percussion instruments modelled on dolphin bones, native oyster shells and marine ecology are paired with vibraphone and electronics in this premiere performance.

The instruments are nestled against a sonified shell curtain and immersed in a video projection design featuring underwater footage and sound recordings captured in the river. This multisensorial musical experience offers an opportunity to see and hear beneath the surface in a new light.

The central focus of this project is the history of Australian shellfish reefs in metropolitan rivers, offering a new lens through which to view the bodies of water around our city. Between 1927 and 1956 over three million tons of oyster shell was dredged from the Derbarl Yerrigan/Swan River, then ground up for mortar, roads and building materials at sites across Perth, including Goolugatup Heathcote where this work takes place.

The transference of matter into and out of the river and subsequent impact on estuarine ecology informs this work by three of Western Australia’s leading creative artists, which exists as and between art installation and concert performance.



Alluvial Gold has been generously supported by the Western Australian Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

Dr Louise Devenish is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE200100555) funded by the Australian Government.

Artistic Team

Louise Devenish, performance and direction
Stuart James, composition and sound design
Erin Coates, video and sculptural instruments
Mia Holton, projection design
Peter Young, production manager
Tristen Parr, producer for Tura New Music


Louise Devenish

Louise Devenish is a contemporary percussionist whose creative practice blends performance, collaboration and artistic research. As a soloist and with ensembles Decibel, The Sound Collectors Lab and Intercurrent, she develops new works exploring digital notation, post-instrumental practice and collaborative creativity, performing at major festivals around Australasia, Europe, North America and UK. A passionate advocate of new music and Australian music, Louise has commissioned over 50 works, and her performances are acknowledged for their ‘dazzling vitality’, ‘interpretive flair and technical brilliance’. Louise has collaborated on award-winning recordings with these ensembles and others including Speak Percussion and Synergy Percussion, released on Hat[now]art, Listen/Hear, Immediata, Innova and room40, as well as solo album music for percussion and electronics (Tall Poppies). Louise is currently Senior Research Fellow (ARC DECRA) and Percussion Coordinator at Monash University. She is a Churchill Fellow, and recently published her first book Global Percussion Innovations: An Australian Perspective. More info

Stuart James

Stuart James is an award-winning Western Australian-based composer, performer, sound designer, audio engineer, and producer. Originally mentored by Allison Applebaum (USA), Anthony Payne (UK), Roger Smalley (UK/AUS), Nigel Butterly (AUS) and Lindsay Vickery (AUS), his compositional work explores both acoustic and electronic instruments. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by the ABC, Decibel, WASO New Music Ensemble, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Michael Kieran Harvey, and have been recorded and released on Tall Poppies. James is a founding member of Decibel and has performed as part of this ensemble throughout Europe and Asia. He currently works as Lecturer in composition and music technology at WAAPA, and operates his own commercial recording studio, The Soundfield Studio, where he has collaborated with artists ShockOne (UK/AUS), Kele Okereke (UK), JMSN (USA), Jac Dalton (USA), Timmy Trumpet (AUS), Ta-ku (AUS) and Loston (AUS). Stuart also completed his doctorate for research in spatial audio, spectral synthesis and wave terrain synthesis, and has continued to publish regularly on music technology. He was recently awarded an ECR grant to research how 3D sound can potentially be used to assist in human navigation, and how newly emergent technologies are now facilitating the potential for exploring virtual environments. More info

Erin Coates

Erin Coates is a visual artist and creative producer working across film, sculptural installation and drawing. Her practice examines our relationship with and within the spaces we build and inhabit, focusing on the limits of our bodies and physical interaction within given environments. Erin’s recent work has explored underwater spaces to look at human physical thresholds and subtly allude to humanity’s evolutionary, oceanic origins and our impact on marine ecosystems. Her work draws on her background as a free-diver as well as her fascination with biological processes and how these are represented in the cinematic language of body horror. Erin’s works are shown in both galleries and film festivals. She has a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. More info