Delighted to be joining the conversation and looking forward to spending some time with the rich, diverse and stimulating material already posted.
I am an artist and researcher/scholar/lecturer (in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow). For the past five years or so, the focus of my practice/research has been on our (human) relationships with water — specifically in the context of urban waterways and, even more specifically, in the context of the River Clyde, River Kelvin and Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow and Central Scotland, and the Bow River and its watershed in Alberta. As an artist, I generally work in collaboration with Nick Millar (alongside our other, innumerable, human and more-than-human collaborators). We tend to work in ephemeral modes such as performance, projected imagery and sound. I also write about/as-part-of my practice. DonaldMillar selected work
I hope to post regularly about on-going work, events and reflections but, by way of introduction, here are some images, some information on and links to past watery projects, performances, prose and practices…
- Guddling About Glasgow (2014 - ongoing) — an evolving suite of playfully-serious actions/experiments with water/waterways in Glasgow Green Tease event Green Tease reflection
- Melting Species (Glasgow) -— an installation for the Only Human? Festival, Glasgow — part of the UK-wide Being Human Festival (2014) Only Human? festival Being Human festival
- 'Entided, Enwatered, Enwinded: Human/More-than-Human Agencies in Site-specific Performance' in Performing Objects and Theatrical Things, eds. Marlis Schweitzer and Joanne Zerdy, Palgrave (2014). An essay reflecting on the agencies of rivers, weather and tides in two performance works: Bridging Part 1 and High-Slack-Low-Slack-High Performing Objects and Theatrical Things
- Bridging Part 2 — a site-specific screening of the performance Bridging Part 1 commissioned for Culture 2014, the Commonwealth Cultural Programme, Glasgow (2014)
- Guddling About: Experiments in Vital Materialism with Particular Regard to Water - a series of actions/experiments with water devised and performed as part of an artists' residency with the City of Calgary Utilities and Environmental Protection (Water Services) and Public Art Departments, Alberta, 2013. Alberta Watershed plus residency blog Guddling About in Alberta watershed plus
- 'Guddling About: Experiments in Vital Materialism with Particular Regard to Water' — a photo-essay on Guddling About in Alberta in The Goose, A Journal of Arts, Environment and Culture in Canada, 13.1 (2014) Guddling About photo essay
- 'The Urban River and Site-specific Performance', an essay reflecting on two works, Bridging Part 1 and The Govan Armada The Govan Armada in Contemporary Theatre Review, 22.2 (2012) The Urban River and Site-specific Performance
- 'Bridging Part 1', artist's pages in Performance Research, 17.4 (2012) Bridging Part 1 artists' pages
- High-Slack-Low-Slack-High — a suite of site-responsive sound works inspired by the tidal range of the River Clyde in Glasgow. Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art (2012)
- Bridging Part 1 — a site-specific performance on and with the River Clyde, Glasgow. Commissioned by the Network for Contemporary Performing Arts (2010)
- Riverstop — an intervention in the Riverstop quayside kiosk as part of Glasgow River Festival, 2009
- Laika - a 20-metre steel-hulled replica Dutch Barge, built by BLC Scotland Ltd. Steel Fabricators from a 'kit' supplied by Dutch company, Euroship, and fitted out by us. We lived on Laika in the River Clyde Boatyard, Rothesay Dock East, Yoker, near Glasgow from 2010-12. (2006-12)
- Peccadillo (#2) — a second broad-beamed residential 'narrowboat' built near Burnley and transported to the Forth and Clyde Canal to take up the first residential mooring on the canal in Glasgow. (1993-97)
- Peccadillo (#1) — our first residential narrowboat on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (1991-93)
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.
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.
Sunday March 22nd was World Water Day, and for Water City Bristol an opportunity to collaborate with our partnership project Bristol Loves Tides (BLT!) in a fun event down by the tidal Avon. To coordinate with the high tides (time and tide wait for no one!) we had a very early morning start - particularly for a Sunday! The Water City Bristol team met up with the ten young presenters (more about this later) employed by Bristol Loves Tides as well as the other BLT team members from the organisation My Future - My Choice, Rough Glory Films and the Desperate Men.
The morning began for us at 6:30am in the Lockside Cafe where we donned our BLT hoodies, placed the ten cardboard replicas of the famous Bristol ship the Matthew on the tables, and prepared to meet our first guests at 7am. It was a brisk morning and a high pressure system was in action - with implications for the super high tide (the high pressure system suppresses the water levels), but the atmosphere in the cafe was warm and friendly. Eighty guests were served BLT sandwiches (or a vegetarian version), and short speeches were given by the Chair of Bristol Green Capital, one of the young presenters from BLT (Jade) and our own Rowan Matthiessen on behalf of Water City Bristol. After this, each table had some time to think about and talk about why water and the tides are important, and comments were written on paper discs and inserted into the ships.
At 8:15 the young presenters ushered us all out to the side of Cumberland Basin where we noticed some strangely clad fellows dragging a heavy-looking suitcase! In their barnacle-encrusted coats, Proxi and Peri, the tides made flesh, washed up to where we were gathered. They were greeted by the lord Mayor of the city but wanted to talk to the 'future!' (i.e. the young presenters). One by one objects were taken out of the suitcases and the bright young things went forward to collect them, and to say a short piece standing atop a podium about the different themes relating to tides. These were: heritage and future; the water cycle; biodiversity; hydropoetics and tidal energy.
Following these thought-provoking pronunciations we were invited to participate in an oath. Dipping one hand into wonderful gloopy Avon mud and raising it into the air, we repeated our oath to love the water in every way we could think of - a video of this is available here:
What interactive performance would be complete without a bit of singing? This is what came next, as we were instructed as three groups to take up one line of this little ditty:
We are the tides we ebb and flow
Tuned to the moon we come and go
Ebb and flow and come and go and ebb and flow...
Once we had learned our section, we sang them all together, while weaving in an out of the group, causing the harmony to continually change as we moved through.
Our next flow led us to 'the point' - a view of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, and a great place to observe the height of the tide. As mentioned, the high pressure system meant that in fact, the tide was not spectacularly high - in fact it was lower in effect than the high tides we had in February. In some ways this was a blessing for the organisation of the event as it meant that we were able to all walk comfortably by the water, which had not come over the edge as it might have done. Milling and chatting in this space, watching Peri and Proxi's antics there was one last ritual to come.
A heart shape chalked on the otherwise graffiti-covered wall behind provided a place for us to show some muddy love. The buckets of mud made the rounds again and squelching in we filled in the heart with hand prints, and covered the white space with more of these too. The wonderful soft squigdy sensation of the mud was a great way to connect with the surroundings and the ritual aspect felt both light-hearted and significant.
From here the majority of the group filtered off, while the young presenters, Water City Bristol team members and a few others boarded a boat by the Nova Scotia pub and headed to the Balmoral to watch the first instalment of the Proxi and Peri film, which will be used in schools tours in June and July. The film is fantastic and we hope to share it here very soon.