Into the head of the cove, on which our establishment is fixed, runs a small stream of fresh water, which serves to divide the adjacent country to a little distance, in the direction of north and south.
– Captain Watkin Tench, of the Marines, January 1788.
Tankstream – Into the head of the cove… marked the course of the Tank Stream, Sydney’s first water supply, with five key sites through the city. The stream commenced in marshes near Pitt Street Mall, extending to Alfred Street and finally flowing into the Harbour at Circular Quay. This artwork celebrated the stream’s importance in the founding of the city and its continued survival under the city streets.
The location of Sydney was chosen by Governor Phillip because of the Tank Stream, and it remained the city’s only water supply until the 1850’s. This work made people aware of the presence and historical importance of the Tank Stream in the development of Sydney.
The artwork was located in five separate sites from Pitt Street Mall to Alfred Street creating a diagram mapping the course of the stream. Set into the pavement, above the existing subterranean stream, were coloured glass modules overlapping and angled away from stainless steel lines. The angles represented the flow of the Tank Stream in relation to the direction of Pitt Street – comparing the natural and man-made conduits of energy in the city. At the final site on Alfred Street the rods splayed to represent the delta as the stream flows into Sydney Cove
The movement of the subterranean stream was alluded to by the glass rods which were lit from below. They ripple blue light at night, creating a sense of flow beneath the surface.
The title of the work was taken from Watkin Tench’s historical text and the steel rods were etched with the longer quotation. Watkin Tench, Captain of the Marines of the First Settlers at Port Jackson, wrote in his diary about the selection of Sydney Cove as the site for the first settlement. He recorded the presence of water at this site, his vision of grandeur of the settlement, the geographical description of the Sydney valley and the rise and flow of the stream
Lynne Roberts-Goodwin lives and works in Sydney. She studied at the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales, gaining a postgraduate Master of Fine Art Degree from Manchester University, Medlock Fine Arts Centre in 1980. Roberts–Goodwin’s photographic work is grounded in a deep concern for nature and humanity.
SYDNEY SCULPTURE WALK PLAQUE
Tankstream – Into the head of the cove… / Lynne Roberts–Goodwin / The Tankstream artwork in five separate locations from Pitt Street Mall to Alfred / Street marks the existence of the historic Tank Stream bubbling below the city / streets. The subterranean movement of a fine stream of fresh spring water is / conveyed through the rippling blue light and accompanying text. / Captain Watkin Tench, Captain of the Marines of the First Settlers at Port Jackson, / wrote in his diary about the selection of Sydney Cove as the site for the first / settlement. He recorded the presence of water at this site, his vision of grandeur of / the settlement, the geographical description of the Sydney valley and the rise and / flow of the stream. / Tankstream celebrates the memory of the original stream which started in marshes / where Pitt Street Mall is now situated, its importance in the founding of the city and / its continued survival under the city streets, finally flowing into the harbour at Circular / Quay. / Installed: June 1999
‘Into the head of the cove, on which our establishment is fixed, runs a small stream of fresh water, / which serves to divide the adjacent country to a little distance, in the direction of north and south.’ / Captain Watkin Tench, of the Marines, January 1788.
This artwork was deaccessioned in 2019
Originally commissioned for ten years Tankstream – Into the head of the cove… formed part of the City of Sydney’s Sydney Sculpture Walk and public art collection for nearly 20 years.
Each work included in the Sydney Sculpture Walk has been a significant artistic and cultural contribution to this city, adding renewed interest and meaning to established city spaces.
A 2016 review of the Sydney Sculpture Walk has resulted in the deaccession of three works, including Tankstream – Into the head of the cove. This decision was not taken lightly.