Be Water, My Friend. 2024

Be Water, My Friend is a mural showing the water cycle, situated in and around the island of Aegina. It is a simple design made by Navine G. Dossos as part of the collective works of Vessel and was created by the local community of the island, led by the artist Aristeidis Lappas in January 2024.

On Wednesday 6th September 2023, the island of Aegina where I live received some of its heaviest rainfall in many years1. These rains had a huge impact on the island and caused widespread flooding and damage to homes and properties. More than one metre of rain fell in less that twelve hours – more than anyone on the island can remember in living memory. The rains were sudden and unexpected, necessitating much repair work, rethinking and new planning responsive to the changes.

The island’s main playground, situated by the seafront in the town of Aegina was hit badly. Floodwater was trapped on the road behind it causing the road to be impassable. It was necessary for parts of the playground’s wall to be destroyed to allow the water to pass down to the sea. This did a great deal of damage to the playground, and it has since been unusable.

1 Meteorological records show that Aegina received 141 mm. of rain on 6 September 2023, the previous record for one day’s rain was 62 mm.

Vessel has created a new mural artwork at the flood-damaged playground. The work, titled Be Water My Friend is part of a wider project Vessel are working on to bring together peoples’ stories from that day to raise awareness of climate change, tangibly and forcibly brought to our attention through this event. These elements will be presented in an accompanying exhibition looking at the water cycle and how it manifests on the island in our water use and water management.

This work was created with the support of EMST (National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens) whose Extra Muros project aims to see more projects made outside of Athens and in local communities beyond the capital city. This reflects the aims of Vessel, an arts collective and studio that is interested in engaging with local issues through a lens of contemporary art but also ecological and cultural entanglement.

Creating this work in a local playground is not just a response to the fact that this important local site was destroyed by floodwater. It is also an important site of learning and engagement for children. We believe that it is important to begin conversations and understanding about the finite resources we have at an early age, and for there to be a role for learning alongside play.