Clyde damAll rights reserved by Jon Wilson

The Power That Flows Through Us

Jon Wilson worked with Matt Galloway to produce a series of audiovisual works about the Clyde dam.

The Clyde dam on the Clutha river in Otago is New Zealand's third-largest hydroelectric dam. It was constructed between 1982 and 1993, flooding orchards in the valley and parts of Cromwell township to form the new Lake Dunstan. Designer Matt Galloway teamed up with Lecturer and cinematographer Jon Wilson to creatively explore the positive and negative impacts the Clyde dam has had on the area and the people living there. Their project was funded by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

With permission from dam owner and operator Contact Energy, Jon filmed the dam inside and out. Drones operate using GPS, so it was challenging to fly inside the turbine hall because of the magnetic field which generates electricity from the rotating turbines. Jon also made sound-recordings of the turbines and the water. For the project Jon also recorded Brian Turner reading some of his poems, reflecting on the relationships between the people and the water and the dam.

The final result was four short films forming an audiovisual exhibition. The exhibition was installed in Cromwell's Historic Precinct and was available for public viewing from 25 November 2022 to 6 January 2023. A free newspaper combined Matt's writing and Jon's photographs with contributions from many others reflecting on aspects of the dam's construction and operation. It is estimated that about 80% of the 5,000 copies were taken by exhibition visitors.