Sep 30
This may be of interest...


A three-day program. The first of which (7th Oct) is in Somerset, where I will be presenting work from Unruly Waters and Some:when.
I believe there's a reduced day ticket price for students

I published this blog post a few minutes ago with an image but am not sure it has loaded, so trying again with text only...

Wet Geographies III

Water-worlds: art practices and wet ecologies


Call for Presentations for RGS-IBG Conference 2015 on 'Geographies of the Anthropocene’. Apologies for any cross postings.

This call is for the third of three linked panels that comprise Wet Geographies. Taking place outside of a traditional seminar space, it is designed to accommodate proposals for alternative presentational formats such as performance and other forms of artist presentation.

Proceedings will conclude with a panel discussion that will serve to draw out and reflect on themes emerging from across the Wet Geographies discussions.

Session organizers: Philip Steinberg, Durham University & Veronica Vickery, University of Exeter 

Research group affiliations: HPGRG, SCGRG 

Wet Geographies I Under the Sea: Geographies of the deep

Wet Geographies II Water in the Anthropocene: creative approaches



Water is in many ways an enigma.

Puddle, trickle, stream, river, estuary, sea, ocean

Aquifer, springs, oasis, wells

Ice, water, vapour. 

Water. Whilst we depend on it for our survival, it also threatens to drown us. Despite the seas and oceans covering 90% of the earths ‘surface’, these vast tracts of water remain in many ways unfathomable, vast tracts of the ‘unknown’ within our immediate world.

This session – the third in the ‘Wet Geographies’ series – engages creative practice for thinking with water as a space that has depth and volume, that is a stable surface but also a perpetually re-forming element, that both gives and takes away life, that is always inside us (we are 70% water) and is necessary for life but that also poses challenges to human habitation. In joining art practices with the ‘nature’ of water, this session explores a synergy between the two. Art practices have the potential to bring the intensity, dynamism, instability, and rhymicality of the material world to the fore. In its ability to capture the vibratory structure of matter itself, art is particularly well suited for exploring the ontology of water and, through this engagement, opening up our understandings of key land-oriented concepts, such as ‘ground’ and ‘territory’.

We welcome proposals for presentations that will consider the materially processual and eventful nature of water-worlds, and the patterns through which humans live with, under, upon, and through water’s geo-physical circulations and re-formations. This session is specifically designed to accommodate ‘non-traditional’ presentations using alternative formats (e.g. performance lectures, sound work, visual media, etc.) - we expect to work with presenters collaboratively to shape this session.  

Please get in touch with draft ideas by Friday 23rd January to discuss your ideas and the practicalities involved. 

The submission date for finalised abstracts is Monday 2nd February

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to both V.Vickery@exeter.ac.uk and philip.steinberg@durham.ac.uk. 

Please note we are able to offer some limited support for fee remission for presenters from disciplines other than geography and who would not qualify for support from an academic institution. Please let us know if you think this might apply to you.

Jan 30
Tom Payne is a performance maker, facilitator, researcher and digital consultant. He works at Aberystwyth University with an artist led team on an AHRC funded research project entitled Towards Hydrocitizenship. This work seeks to engage communities around the UK in creative conversations about water and related issues by using participatory arts and humanities research methods. In support of this project he has created Hydrocitizens, an online community where others engaged in similar activities can exchange, debate and share practice. 

Tom Payne
Larch Log Fire - April 2013

He lives with his young family at Ty'n yr Helyg Barn. The barn is situated on an organic vegetable farm, near Llanrhystud in rural mid Wales. In 2013 he worked with community groups and other collaborators in order to transform part of the barn into a performance space. Ty'n yr Helyg Theatre is the site for an ongoing relational performance making practice that invites others to explore questions of ecology, environment and sustainability through collaborative handmade acts and the staging of ceremonial and ritual events.

Tom Payne wassail bowl
Wassail Bowl - January 2013

His recent practice based PhD research project explored site-specific and participatory practices. Specifically with reference to the launch year of National Theatre Wales and practices of location. In addition to his collaborative handmade practice he has also developed a solo practice of located spectatorship. This practice involves returning to the sites of performance in order to explore past events through memory and the traces that remain in the landscape. 

The Persians - August 2010

He has taught in Further and Higher Education since 2001 and specialises in performance, media and digital design.

Connect with Tom
Email: tsp06@aber.ac.uk

Mar 09

The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is proud to host the 71st annual meeting of SECAC, to be held October 21-24 at the Wyndham Grand in downtown Pittsburgh. The 2015 theme, CONFLUENCE, aligns the geographic confluence of the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers that form the Ohio river, with the conceptual confluence and fluidity of borders related to art, architecture, design, education, and pedagogy today.

SECAC is Southeastern College Art Conference -  a non-profit organization that promotes the study and practice of the visual arts in higher education on a national basis.

Fluid Currents: Water, Art, and Ecology. CFP

In his 1836 'Essay on American Scenery,' the painter Thomas Cole compared water to “the eye of human countenance, in the unrippled lake, which mirrors all surrounding objects, we have the expression of tranquillity and peace 'in the rapid stream, the headlong cataract, that of turbulence and impetuosity.” Inspired by SECAC's 2015 host city of Pittsburgh, located at the confluence of three rivers, this panel seeks proposals for papers that consider how water, art, and ecology have intersected and informed each other throughout history. How have artists visually and materially imagined water conduits, whether rivers, streams, waterfalls, canals, or even underground pipes, and their relationship with human and/or nonhuman life? By what means have artists explored and celebrated the dynamic quality of waterways, documented their development and change over time, or condemned their failure, pollution, and misuse? Does the study of artistic engagement with bodies of water challenge or reinforce national mythologies, regional identity, or historical periodization?

We welcome proposals by artists and art historians working in a variety of fields and time periods in order to encourage dialogue that addresses the physical and metaphorical qualities of water and its relationship to representation.

Session chairs: Laura Igoe, Princeton University Art Museum, and Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, University ofMinnesota. Contact: ltigoe@princeton.edu

Jul 01
The Water Knows All My Secrets

This exhibition brings loss and disappearance---  of life, land, access and rights--- to the surface as it takes a critical look at our engagement with water, whether as a barrier, a threatening force of nature, or a resource at risk. 



Halil Altindere

Ursula Biemann

Osman Bozkurt

Jethro Brice

Nikolaj Larsen

Didem ?zbek

Mounira al Solh

Janaina Tsch?pe

M?ge Yilmaz 

Image: Ursula Biemann, video still from Subatlantic, 2015

144 West 14th St. | New York, NY 10011

Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday 11 AM-6 PM, Thursday until 8 PM. 


Pratt Manhattan Gallery, a public art gallery affiliated with Pratt Institute, organizes and hosts exhibitions featuring contemporary art and design.
Aug 05
This post on Waterweavers, an exhibition at the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington DC, might be of interest to some here.

'You walk into an air-conditioned building in Washington, D.C., and suddenly you're surrounded by rivers.

You can hear them, from the bubbling chuckle of a current to an unforgiving roar.

You can see them, foamy currents rushing past on video screens.

And when you take a break and sit down on a chair — carved out of reclaimed rainforest wood — you look up to see cascades of linen and plastic that seem to pour from the ceiling like flowing water.'


Beached: the Final Landing

Reflections on Cymerau in the Spring  - Katherine Jones and Tom Payne

From May 26th to 29th the Cymerau artists and community members showcased creative projects devised with and for people in the Borth and Tal-y-bont area in Ceredigion, mid Wales.

This included Beached: The Final Landing by Jane Lloyd-Francis and Gwilym Morus-Baird;  Water Surgery by Jess Allen; Y Gors by Dafydd Sills-Jones, Anne Marie Carty and Nick Jones; Edafedd-dwr by Ffion Jones; The Water Shed by residents of the Borth Community Allottments and Stories, Songs, Science and the Sea by Peter Stevenson, Erin Kavanagh and Lynne Denman.

The following is written conversation between two participants in these events. Tom Payne was involved in organising the Spring Gathering with other members of the local team. Katherine Jones is a former Aberystwyth resident and is a Towards Hydrocitizenship team member working on the Water City Bristol case study.

Ar Lan y Leri

The weekend began on Thursday evening with Beached: The Final Landing, which was the last installment in a series of walks and public events organised by Jane and Gwilym under the title Ar Lan y Leri (beside the Leri). The Leri is one of three rivers that run through the Cymerau Case study area; the others include the Ceulan and the Dyfi, all of which combine in the waters of the Dyfi Estuary which flow into the Cardigan Bay.

Katherine: A group of mainly Borth residents assemble at the Ynyslas nature reserve for a short walk inland along the edge of the main Ynys Las car park and along to the river Leri. At this point, the mouth of the river, we are treated to Suzanne Iuppa reading some beautiful poetry.  Suzanne has come down from Mold, and has an American accent. Her poems are a response to a landscape initially unfamiliar to her, but they have bubbled up through impressions and conversations gathered through walking some of the Leri. For my own part, having grown up in this area, I never knew this particular river which runs past the back of the Borth train track, and along part of the coastal path which I have walked, is called the Leri. Beached: the Final Landing

Tom: I have never walked inland at Ynylslas.  Every other time I have been here I’ve followed the boardwalk through the dunes out towards the sea. I am reminded of a time many years ago that I had a brief part in a film playing Timothy Spall’s body double. I had to sit on a bench in a long trench coat so that the filmmakers could film him/me from behind looking out to the horizon; not the most flattering casting decision. Further inland, close to the boat yard at the mouth of the Leri, I’m taking in the awesome view that stretches eastwards beyond the flat esturine landscape to the hills above Tal-y-bont. I can see small white windmills spinning briskly on and between the green peaks as I listen intently to James Meek talk about the wrecked ships that lie below the surface of the water in the estuary. Small wooden posts jut upwards, some distance away, marking the location of one of the vessels. I can hear James’ voice clearly, even at a distance, like he is speaking to me in a small room, which is surreal, given the backdrop. It’s difficult to bring our immediate location into relation with the enormatiy of the vista, which seems somehow like it might be a painting on enormous stage flats.

Beached: the Final Landing

Katherine: We meander back to the nature reserve centre where chairs have been set up for an audience, to watch Jane and Gwilym share their impressions from their three-day journey from source to sea of this river. The walls are adorned with pictures of snakes and birds, and a list of birds recently spotted in the Ynyslas nature reserve. Jane and Gwilym’s impressions involve recorded conversations, recounted stories of encounter (with the owners of a watermill, with a hare…) and musical compositions ranging from electronic loops of mbira music, and folk songs in Welsh with accompanying ukulele or mandolin.

Tom: The event takes the form of a staged conversation between the two performers. Opening occasionally to include the audience who respond with interest and offer corrections or additional insights. The autobiographical nature of their account is inviting and allows me to make connections with places that I have never been. Following their narrative, I travel downstream with them from location to location, imaging myself deep within the rural Welsh landscape east of the estuary. They weave music, poetry, anecdotes and historical facts into their personal accounts of the places that they passed through on their way from source to sea, and in doing so produce a layered account of this part of Wales.

Katherine: At the end of the performance, Gwilym plays the last conversation between himself and Jane, recorded at the ‘end’ of the Leri as it reaches and flows out into the Dyfi Estuary. They muse on what an ending even means, this is the end of what is called the Leri, but not an ending in any meaningful way for the water that flows, which will flow into the sea, evaporate, rain down again, flow again through the river, and so on, infinitely. It’s an ending though of a conversation begun by the Cymerau project, and they muse on this too. Is it art, they wonder? Particularly the representation that they have treated us to. The journey and the conversations along the way were the art posits Jane, but supposes that the outcome, this sharing, is also art.

Tom: In conversation with Suzie Gablik, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett refers to the ‘art of living’; this is not the art of the gallery or the museum, or professional artists, although she’s quick to point out that it’s anything but amateur, it’s the art of ‘domestic interiors, the table, food, language [...] the arts of sociability, conversation, etiquette and dress’ (https://www.nyu.edu/classes/bkg/web/gablik.pdf). For me, Jane and Gwilym’s representation of their three-day journey down the river Leri is a poetic construction of lived experience. It includes their encounters with people and place, the micro politics involved in spending prolonged periods of time in the company of another person, making decisions about which turning take, and so on. But its also much more than that, this lived experience has a poetic inflection constituted by Gwilym’s mindful act of composing music by the river or in response to the landscape, and Jane’s beautifully written prose. Their deliberate act of walking is artfully performed and represented here, in a mode of exposition that invites us to attend not just to the narrative, but to the place in which the story is being told. Two words/phrases that they used to decribe their journey - ‘honouring’ and ‘paying attention to’ really stuck out to me. Particularly when used in relation to water. The event is an ‘honouring’, a ‘paying attention to’ that invites us to do the same. It’s a gentle invitation, but it’s a political one too. For me it’s saying something very firmly about our abstracted relationship to the water that we use and the natural environment from which it comes. But it’s also one that speaks of a particular priviledge, which the artists themselves draw attention to, that of being able to step outside of everyday life and to spend time, watching, listening, thinking, ‘pay attention’, ‘honouring’...

Beached: the Final Landing

Katherine: Later I have a conversation with Tom around the questions of ‘what is art?’ ‘what is participatory art?’ ‘what is community art?’. I remember back to a philosophy course I took a very long time ago with a reading list that included Tolstoy’s What is Art? Tolstoy’s argument, as I remember it, is that the best form of art is that which is the most common, that is to say the type of art that the most people can relate to. It shouldn’t be obscure, or refer to things or even spiritual or emotional senses that would not be easily identifiable to the person least interested in the study of art. Tolstoy’s argument is very much about inclusivity. The Cymerau project and the Towards Hydrocitizenship project as a whole, also aspires to this kind of inclusivity, and this is realized in the various sub-comissions emerging from it, though inevitably, events are prone to attracting the same group of people who happen to be interested in these sorts of things. Questions also arise around differing understandings of art and creativity. The constraint of inclusiveness can mean that more edgy and difficult creative pieces are excluded. In the Bristol case study for example, we have had rather an extensive focus on tides and tidal landscapes in Bristol without touching much on legacies of slavery, issues of flooding, or explicitly thinking about the effects of a tidal barrage, although at points in the programme all of these things came up and were talked about. Yet the creative work itself was not about engaging with and addressing these more difficult topics in a direct way, and I have wondered at times whether we are watering down (pardon the pun), the darkness as well as the light that is existent in all life. Rebecca Solnit talks about how life is a combination of dark and light, and that we need to embrace both in our understanding of it….

So is this art? Is it good art? Is it participatory art? Do the answers to any of these questions matter?  


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