Bridge (1995)

Harvesting bamboo for Bridge (1995)
S200330 / Bambuco Archive

Simon Barley’s first structure was built using construction techniques adapted from Southeast Asian scaffolding methods, moso bamboo and a material called Spectra. Simon was attracted to the technique of building with bamboo as it allowed flexible joining at angles other than 90 degrees. Spectra is a high-strength, low-stretch cord used on yachts to attach sails and it suited Bambuco’s needs better than synthetic cord of nylon or polypropylene. Combined with a tensioning technique called "switch and join", Spectra created a very strong join and proved to be essential to the building of Bambuco’s structures.
                In 1995 the Melbourne Festival commissioned the company Danceworks, where Simon was designer-in-residence, to construct a bamboo structure on the Southbank footbridge which crosses the Yarra River in Melbourne. The dancers used climbing and abseiling techniques to scale the structure and perform.
                Spectators gathered to watch Simon and his team build this curious structure using archaic methods that appeared incongruous against the backdrop of steel and concrete skyscrapers.

Bridge, Melbourne Festival (1995)
S301174 / Bambuco Archive

“I learnt an important lesson from listening to feedback from the audience, realising that the real drama for the spectators is construction. From this sprang the idea of construction as performance.” Simon Barley

Bridge, Melbourne Festival (1995)
S301175 / Bambuco Archive

Documentary of Bridge (1995)
S301167 / Bambuco Archive