Throughout the Queer River research project I’m going to be taking a series of walks with others along the Hampshire Avon. The first of these took place a couple of weeks ago in Salisbury, as part of the Wessex Archaeology project Ebb and Flow.
This first walk was a wonderful way for me to begin Queer River, with the structure of the Ebb and Flow walk echoing the methodology that I have developed for Queer River walks. Namely that I will walk, talk and make with key people (human and non-human) along different stretches of the Hampshire Avon, as a form of exchange between my place-based practice and their own perceptions/experiences of the River.
For Ebb and Flow I walked with Geoarchaeologist Dr Claire Mellett, supported by Leigh Chalmers, Wessex Achaeology’s Heritage Inclusion Specialist, and filmed by Photographer and Videographer Tom Westhead.
I made Claire and myself a simple fold out sketchbook to map our experiences of our walk, whilst she shared with me her knowledge of how rivers and landscapes change over time. We began our walk at the Avon Valley Nature Reserve to the North East of Salisbury and walked through the city centre to the Harnham Water Meadows.
The Ebb and Flow project was developed by Leigh Chalmers as part of the Festival of Archaeology, whose theme this year is Climate and Environment. The film made by Tom to document our walk will be premiered on the Festival’s YouTube channel on Saturday 24th at 11.00am, with a live Q&A afterwards with Claire and myself.
We hope that the film will inspire people to get out and explore their own local river, and experience the benefit to their wellbeing.
I was also filmed suggesting some creative activities that viewers of the main film can try out. These short clips will be released one at a time during Half Term week.
I’m not going to go into more detail on the film and the content of my conversations with Claire, as I’d really love you to watch it and let us know what you think. But I did want to mention that it was a fascinating experience for me, in that I felt like our different perspectives on the river, coming as we do from different backgrounds and subject areas, were really complementary, especially in relationship to the subject of climate change.
If you watch the Ebb and Flow film and end up outside exploring your local river, please do share images with us on social media, using the #EbbAndFlow2020 hashtag.
Tomorrow I’m going to be visiting a stretch of the River Avon above Salisbury towards Figheldean, with Nick Wilson from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Water Team, to look together at some of the restoration work they’ve carried out there. I’ll be posting on here about that soon.