Friday 7 April 2017

Sabrina and the Long View

With new (under)currents re-mixing the waters of the Severn Estuary, Somerset Levels, Shannon Estuary and the Wadden Sea, these are some muddy notes freshly dredged up and now drying off in the sun...
Between 2012-2014, there was a 2-year creative geographies network-exchange between the Severn Estuary and Wadden Sea, supported by the AHRC and Dutch NWO. This was called Between the Tides.

One of the outcomes of this is a slowly accreting collaboration with Professor Steve Poole (UWE-Bristol/ Regional History Centre, Bristol) involving fieldwork, conversations/voices and creative assemblages at a number of locations. Whereas 'Sabrina Dreaming' is still mainly focused on the Estuary coast, A Long View is an exploration of deep-time undercurrents in the estuary floodplain of the Somerset Levels and Moors.

A Long View : Past, Present and Future 

also part of the ACE-funded, Submerged (Drowned & Dammed) Lands project, 2013-

The approach involves an informed creative, poetic response to a variety of landscape and cultural settings that are affected by changing water-levels. The unifying theme is that the waters come, the waters inexorably rise. Then everything is changed...and the waters recede.

Attentive to local stories and circumstances, but also engaging with panoramic themes of sea-level rise, vital/ecological processes, environmental justice and landscape heritage/history, it is about complex relationships to water-defended places, involving both loss and opportunity - over the long-term. The approach weaves together artistic research threads and stories, aimed at developing a series of site-specific exhibitions that will present maps, sounds, multiple voices and film-works.

'A Long View' is a collaboration with the Regional History Centre (Professor Steve Poole, UWE). Working over an extended time period with local groups and individuals, we are assembling an installation of maps, audio-visuals and sculptural elements. This will interweave past/contemporary voices, experiences and aspirations - all relating to life on the Somerset Levels+Moors, from prehistory to the present...and into the future. There a geopoetic fusing of art and ecology along with the temporal/historical perspective. We are also working with technical partners to derive data from environmental processes in the area (tides, water-flows, levels etc).

The planned installation, in an ancient Tithe Barn, will centre around a series of large scale historic maps, images and film pieces, with hundreds of suspended micro-speakers presenting a remix of contemporary and historical voices and field recordings. This sonic assemblage will pulse, ebb and flow, using tidal data from the River Parrett. Visitors will also be able to annotate their own words, thus adding to a living, morphing document.

Antony Lyons has a background of 25 years scientific and creative involvement with water issues in Somerset and the South West of England. He is the founder of NOVA ("a geopoetic fantasy lab"), and has had a long connection with other wetland environments and changing/contested landscapes. He was Leverhulme-funded artist-in-residence on the Severn Estuary coast, hosted by the University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside and Community Research Institute.

Steve Poole is Professor of History and Heritage at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and is Director of the university’s Regional History Centre. His research is concerned with both social history ‘from below’ and the development of relationships between landscape, heritage and identity, with particular emphasis on the coastal histories of Somerset and Gloucestershire. Steve is working with South Gloucestershire Council’s ‘A Forgotten Landscape’ initiative on the Severn Estuary, is a member of the AHRC/NWO funded ‘Between the Tides’ network.

Some accounts of our early explorations are scattered elsewhere, but assembled as links here:

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