Water Rising: art, innovation, change and development

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Thoresby College

10 Queen Street

King's Lynn

PE30 1HX

United Kingdom

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A GroundWork Gallery day-long conference

To coincide with the current exhibition: Water Rising, making art in calm and storm (open daily except Sundays and Mondays, 11-4 till June 1st)

This event will get you up to date on all kinds of topical and urgent water issues. Great for artists, architects, engineers, designers, landscape and water specialists, plus NGOs. It is so important that we share ideas across disciplines and consider the practical and legal issues as well as the cultural and emotional ones when we consider our futures with rising water. Speakers represent the exhibition and its stunning artists, but also some of the largest architectural and engineering practices in the world, a unique initiative to create a world network of water museums and - stop press - a lawyer specialising in civil society and water, who proposes some innovative ideas about the role of art as communities struggle to preserve their rights to water.

Community events for Water Rising are supported by Anglian Water's Keep It Clear Campaign

Globally and locally we face a changing relationship with water. We know that sea level rise is accelerating, predicted to gain steadily by up to a metre over the 21st century, enough for example, for London to become submerged. Science and technical know-how is being crucially engaged and architects, engineers, planners and environment agencies are busy forming strategies to mitigate its dangers and come up with creative solutions.

However, as many recognise, these developments need to be accompanied by cultural change and adaptation to new sustainable patterns of life. Interpretations by artists are are part of the formation of new cultural responses. Being acute observers of change, many are thinking creatively about direct encounters with water, proposing images about experiences, raising questions about its beauty and power.

As the need for greater understanding of water’s future becomes more urgent, we need to bring together multiple perspectives to make new propositions about the resourcefulness we need as we form new and different attitudes to it. Without this the watery surges of climate change will still defeat us.

The conference-study day will bring together perspectives from art, science, geography, engineering, architecture, cultural development. The idea is to stimulate discussion, and for participants and audience to contribute to the richer dialogues that will result

Speakers include:
Clive Adams, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, on the recently UNESCO accredited world network of water museums, His talk will show how artists are addressing the serious 'water issues' that face us today, and how the involvement of artists through residencies and exhibitions can engage people in ways that complement the work of science and conventional education.

Richard Coutts, BACA architects, on innovative architecture for watery environments; BACA, a branch of Water Studio in the Netherlands, is one of the most prominent architectural and design companies innovating in this area.

Richard Coutts co-founded Baca in 2003 in response to the changes in weather that are a consequence of climate change. How we inhabit a future of increased rainfall, increased sea-level and increased threat of flood is central to Baca's work. Richard leads the office as Team Principal. He is particularly interested in renewable energy, sustainability and low carbon design. He has directed large high profile projects such as the Eiland Veur Lent in Nijmegen - a new ‘eco-leisure’ destination in The Netherlands; the Waterspace Strategy for UNESCO World Heritage Site – Liverpool South Docks and an array of high quality one-off architectural projects for private clients.

Jack Heslop WSP, on rising water problems and creative engineering solutions; He will look at the effects of long-term coastal change. WSP is one of the world's largest engineering companies with offices all over the country. Jack Heslop trained at Brighton University and since then has specialised at WSP on creating solutions to the variable and rising water problems of Britain's rivers, coasts and shore-lines, especially around the South West.

Prof Lindsey McEwen, Centre for Water, Community and Resilience, University of West of England, Bristol, on the flood-drought continuum, especially in the Fens; In this talk, Lindsey will share some personal reflections on research undertaken with communities on engaging with floods and droughts, and the value of bringing discussion of both these water risks into the same place and space in learning for climate resilience. She has been involved in several interdisciplinary UK Research Council funded projects including ‘Sustainable Flood Memories’, DRY (Drought Risk and You), ‘Towards hydrocitizenship’ and CASCADE-NET (Civil Agency, Society and Climate Adaptation to Weather Extremes). All have involved working with the arts and humanities in some creative way. She will set the scene for discussion about how these insights might be applied in working with local communities to explore water risk and wider water relations in building local capital for increased local resilience within water management in the Fens.

Jaap van der Salm, H+N+S Landscape Architects on flood resilience, safety and water management projects in Netherlands and beyond;

Jaap van der Salm studied landscape architecture at Wageningen University and works as a landscape architect at H+N+S since 2010. H+N+S is one of the largest landscape design comapnies in the Netherlands well known for their innovations with water. In his work Jaap focuses on large scale water related projects in which he strives for intelligent designs resulting in a natural beauty. At H+N+S Jaap worked on the design of the Room for the River projects in Nijmegen, Kampen and Ooijen Wanssum; a regional development project along the Meuse river in which water safety measures based on eco-engineering (flood reduction and an innovative dike strategy) are combined with new natural, recreational and economic qualities. He has further developed his design skills in a number of international projects, among others, in Turkey and the United States. In his projects water management solutions are combined with ecosystem restoration, recreational improvements and the strengthening of local communities.

Nawal (Naoual ) Bennacar, International lawyer on the rights to water, from storm to calm; Nawal is working on the concept of water resilience and awareness through art. She and her colleague Dr Khadija Darmame also work on finding ways to link local decisions making to international investment planning and law enforcement.

Naoual Bennaçar obtained her PhD in International Law from UNSA, Institut du droit de la paix de du developpement, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Université Laval in Québec, Canada. She worked as a consultant to government agencies in Algeria and Brazil and has provided training in aspects of international and administrative law to officials at UNESCO and the Administrative Court of Nice. She provided analysis and commentary on investment treaty cases

Peter Matthews, artist, on living in and with the oceans to make art;Matthews has created his work in the earth's oceans, Cornwall, Hawaii, Chile, Taiwan, the shore and oceans are his studios. He keeps his artistic media either cached in his hat or strapped to his wrists or ankles. This includes charcoal, pencil, oil stick and gel pens. The surfaces he draws on can range from paper to canvas sheeting, pinned to an old piece of plywood which acts both as drawing board and flotation device. This method also allows him to explore—in his words—"the fluid midpoint between sea and land, thought and form.” He often enters the water at dawn and may stay immersed until nightfall, and effectively "lets the ocean do the work for him”; sometimes the work is left exposed to the elements and tides overnight in which the piece continues its natural development. Matthews has described himself as merely being the "instrument" by which the sea “draws itself.”

Roger Coulam, artist-photographer, on storm chasing;

Roger Coulam trained initially in environmental science, and turned professional as a photographer in 2003. Until 2007 he had a distinguished career as a storm-chasing photographer, working around the world, sometimes taking guided tours for the benefit of other photographers. Now he is based largely in the North-East of England around Sunderland concentrating on his creative practice. His interests have ranged widely in the natural and historic environment and he has also made many series of semi-abstract images inspired by archaeological remains, details of nature and landscape.

Sophie Marritt, artist, on watery painting the fens;

Sophie made a collection of paintings specially for Water Rising, to capture the watery landscapes of the Wash and the Fens of Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Humberside. Sophie Marritt originally trained and worked as a scientist and began practice as an artist following training at Norwich University of the Arts. Her work is mainly concerned with sea, landscape and nature. Her studio is in Norwich and she paints, as well as making short video works. Lately she has been developing a series of videos and works concentrating on sound.

Emma Critchley, artist on rtists working under-water in general.
Emma Critchley is an artist who uses a combination of photography, film, sound and installation to continually explore the human relationship with the underwater environment as a political, philosophical and environmental space. She is Royal College of Art alumna and has developed works funded by organisations including The National Media Museum, The Photographers Gallery, Arts Council England, the British Council, the Singapore International Foundation and the European Regional Development Fund. Awards include the Royal College of Art Sustain ‘Moving Minds’ award, winner of the British Underwater Image Festival, finalist in a number of Saatchi Gallery awards including New Sensations 2011. Her work has been shown extensively both nationally and internationally in exhibitions at The Australian Centre of Photography, the ICA Singapore, Gerhard Marcks Haus Germany, Eyebeam New York, The National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, the Royal Academy and Tate St Ives. A recent commission from Opera North Projects toured to the Southbank Centre and the BALTIC Centre for contemporary art. In 2017 completed a year’s residency called Culture & Climate Change: Future Scenarios. From this she is developing a public soundscape about underwater acoustic pollution and a film about deep sea mining, funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

Water Rising exhibition community engagement and events have been supported by Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear Campaign.
Admission price includes refreshments and lunch. The talks will start at 11, allowing time for people catching buses from Norwich to arrive.....

Draft Order of Speakers for the day:

10.30 - 11.00 Arrival, welcome - coffee

Session 1 Living with and without water:

11.00 11.30 Lindsey McEwen Reflections on the flood-drought continuum and ‘living with and without water’
Some personal reflections on research undertaken with communities on engaging with floods and droughts, and the value of bringing discussion of both these water risks into the same place and space in learning for climate resilience.

11.30 - 12.00 Jack Heslop Setting the scene for rising and falling water & long- term coastal management strategies

12.00 - 12.15 Roger Coulam ) Making art from storm to calm
12.15 - 12.30 Sophie Marritt )

12.30 - 12.45 Discussion

12.45 - 2.00 Lunch

Session 2: Resolution and resilience

2.00 - 2.30 Jaap van der Salm Planning for flood resilience, safety and water management projects in Netherlands and beyond;

2.30 - 3.00 Nawal Benacar Reflections on conflict, environment and water. Via international law and civil society: how do we get from storm to calm?

3.00 - 3.30 Clive Adams How are artists addressing the serious 'water issues' that face us today, and how can the involvement of artists through residencies and exhibitions engage people in ways that complement the work of science and conventional education.

3.30 - 3.45 Discussion

3.45 - 4.00 Break

Session 3: Above and below the water line

4.00 - 4.15 Peter Matthews )- Making art in and with the oceans;
4.15 - 4.30 Emma Critchley )

4.30 - 5.00 Richard Coutts, BACA: Considering creative solutions: innovative architecture for watery environments

5.00 - 5.15 Discussion

5.30 - 6.00 Drinks at GroundWork Gallery


What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is a good hourly train service from London and Cambridge and the venue is a 10 minute walk from the station

There are options for buses from Norwich Central bus station: Excel and National Express take around 2 hours. The trains from Norwich go via Ely and take longer

Parking is best at Boal Quay long term car park, and costs less then £3.00 per day and is a 5 minute walk to the venue

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

e mail to mail@groundworkgallery.com, or phone 01553340714

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Date and Time


Thoresby College

10 Queen Street

King's Lynn

PE30 1HX

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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