River Medusa

River Medusa is a response to the Gore area — Maruawai, Valley of Water. It pays tribute to the sustaining presence of the Mataura River and the many small streams that feed it. The work was conceived at a time when New Zealand was in the grips of an electricity crisis owing to the low levels of the central South Island hydro lakes and the rivers that feed them. The Medusa reference serves to remind us how vulnerable we are when natural resources such as rivers are neglected, and how helpless we are when powers quite beyond our control ‘turn them to stone’.

Gregory Downie was born in Dunedin in 1960. He studied at the Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Arts and graduated with honours in 1988.  River Medusa is one of several commissions he has undertaken since leaving art school.

Commissioned with the support of the Mataura Licensing Trust.

(The above text is from information in the entrance to the Eastern Southland Art Gallery, Gore). Southland, New Zealand

River Medusa   1992

— by Gregory Downie

Steel, cystic resin and muslin
Eastern Southland Gallery Collection


River Medusa watches over the entry into the gallery. First two photos by Liz


Following two photos by Nigel…



Another photo of mine…


Posted by Liz, photos by Liz and Nigel; Exploring Colour (2019)
Photos taken when we visited the gallery 31 August 2019

11 thoughts on “River Medusa

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  1. I have always been fascinated by Greek Mythology. Especially the tale of Medusa with the venomous snakes for hair and the ability to turn to stone anyone unfortunate enough to gaze upon her face…even after being beheaded by Perseus. Lucky for you, this majestic River Medusa does not possess the same ability! The second photo definitely shows this Medusa staring down upon those passing beneath, mayhaps with less than noble intentions! I love this work of art! Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The risk to hydro lake levels gets discussed quite regularly, whenever we get long dry periods. We need rainfall and snow to keep the various hydro electricity operations going.


    1. It’s really awesome to see the Medusa when entering the gallery. Funny how many people don’t look up though! We were taking photos and a lady further down the path came back to take a look. She was waiting for her partner to come out of the gallery and said that when she went in she hadn’t seen it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s always worth looking up! I learned that when I worked for a study of the old town buildings in Edinburgh – many years ago. There were all sorts of interesting details in buildings around Edinburgh if you looked up. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh I can imagine you’d miss so much in Edinburgh if you don’t look up! Years ago when I was there I probably missed seeing lots of things. There were buskers everywhere and so much going on!

          Liked by 1 person

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