Balawaian Filtration Device

Dean Ansell

Balawaian Filtration Device

Laser etched acrylic, water, fine soil

4x 450cm x 790cm / 900cm x 1580cm

Balawaian Filtration Device is made up of four pieces of acrylic laser etched with Balawaian (also referred to as Rigorabana) symbols from Ansell’s Melanesian heritage. The symbols engraved into the transparent surface have been passed down the Rigorabana line located in the Tauruba area of Rigo, Papua New Guinea. They are tattooed on members of the community as a rite of passage, signifying land markers, animals, status, food, emotions, and items that mark different parts of the body.

The artist has poured a mixture of water and fine soil into the grooves of the plates which slowly trickle down the interconnected carved channels, filtering the soil from the water. This process of filtering  an insoluble component of a mixture from liquid is known as sedimentation. Once the supernatants (clear liquid after sedimentation) evaporates, soil sediments are left in the engraved channels.