Today I took a wooden spoon for a walk, from my home in the Vale of Pewsey, down to the River Avon. The spoon had been used the day before in Salisbury, also by the River Avon, to make tea and coffee for Ripple Effect project participants, and I was keen that it should have a new life, forming the base of a new Walking Bundle.
In the Ripple Effect sessions with Wessex Archaeology, we’ve been talking about how the things that we use and then lose or throw away can become archaeological artefacts, and sometimes end up in museums, such as the Drainage Collection at Salisbury Museum (photos below), which we visited recently.
In my Queer River research I’m becoming increasingly interested in Geology and Prehistory, how the land has changed over time, and how this informs the way that we live with rivers.
Yesterday with the Ripple Effect group we met with two archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology, who talked about Paleolithic and Mesolithic archaeology, and how the Salisbury Avon might have been in the past. As part of the session we handled beautiful flint hand axes, which reminded me of my work at Stonehenge with English Heritage, and more recent research into the relationship between prehistoric sites (especially Neolithic) and rivers. We also talked about what we might learn from our ancestors, in order to live well with the river and be good ancestors ourselves.
So although my work on the Ripple Effect and Queer River, and my previous work on Living by the Ash Tree Waters (working with communities and chalkstreams in the Andover area) are all separate projects, they feed into and inform each other, and support my understanding of the relationship between rock (especially for me, chalk and flint), rivers and people.
Today’s walk with that coffee stained wooden spoon, was a chance for me to let all this sink in, and to revisit my own local stretch of the Avon, upstream from Salisbury, to walk, gather and bind together fragments of this riverscape with the recycled Salisbury spoon.
Next Friday I’m going to be taking my first Queer River walk, since September, when I walked along the Kennet and Avon Canal with Andy Marks. This time I’ll be walking and talking with Artist Gemma Gore, at a nature reserve that sits alongside the Avon, near Ringwood in Hampshire. Formed from flooded gravel pits, Blashford Lakes should offer us a chance to think some more about these themes, and the role of post-industrial wetland landscapes, as well as for me to learn more about the watery nature of Gemma’s own arts practice.
A post on my time with Gemma coming soon…