Wed 3 Nov–Sat 4 Dec 2021
10am–9pm Tues–Sat, free entry
Lighthouse, Poole | Art Gallery
Photos by Mark Simmons
Anna Frijstein, Helen Moore, David Buckland
Opens: Wed 3 November 2021, 5–8pm
Exhibition runs: Thurs 4 November–Sat 4 December 2021
10am–9pm Tuesday–Saturday (closed Sundays and Mondays)
Lighthouse, Poole | Art Gallery
The health of our rivers and lakes is fundamental to our own wellbeing, yet no river in England or Wales is currently considered to be in good overall health. Pollution from chemicals, sewage and farming practices are having a devastating impact on water quality, and climate change is worsening the problems faced by our freshwater habitats.
Cape Farewell has been seeking to change the course of this narrative through its RiverRun project. The first phase was a 3-year exploration of the relationship between food production and land use, freshwater ecosystems and the associated links to climate change. It grew from work by the scientist Antony Jensen at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, on the increased algae blooms that form in the summer in Poole Bay. These have a negative impact on wildlife, fish and human health, and links have been found with agriculture and the way our food is produced. It also built on Cape Farewell’s FarmArt project which explored heritage, sustainability and innovation in organic farming.
RiverRun connected scientists, conservation experts, artists and local farmers in a creative programme of research designed to embrace and interrogate the complex issues around the poor state of our freshwater systems and raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem.
The research and development phase culminated in exhibitions, events and workshops in Autumn 2021, and we were delighted to be partnering with Durlston Country Park in Swanage and Lighthouse in Poole. This year, our Dorchester Science Festival event on 12th March will invite communities to think more deeply about their local rivers and wildlife.
We are planning an open call for new South West artists to join the project as we further develop RiverRun through 2022.
Scientific and farming partners
Cape Farewell and the artists would like to acknowledge the support of all our scientific and farming partners in the research and development of this project:
- Dr Rasmus Lauridsen – Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Prof Genoveva Esteban – Bournemouth University
- Dr John Murphy – Queen Mary University, London
- Dr Antony Jensen – National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
- Dr Simon Boxall – National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
- Dr John Humphreys – Emeritus professor at Greenwich
- Pam & Will Best – Manor Farm, Sydling St Nicholas
- Chris Legg – Dollens Farm, Sydling St Nicholas
So orange that it hurts!
Live performance, painting, sculpture, 2021
My social-ecological interest in the research around Cape Farewell’s RiverRun project, has resulted in a kaleidoscopic body of work around Dorset’s struggling salmon and her swimming kin afar. “Alarming, alarming, global warming!” These increasing temperatures impact their land, waters and biodiverse bodies in many ways. From disrupting salmon’s reproduction patterns to having their food sources moved further up North. Now, only even fewer salmon, exhausted by their long journey, return home to the River Frome.
The installed work consists of two XL aquarium-shaped watercolour paintings, a ceramic mobile and a glass womb sculpture surrounded with chalk and heat responsive orange ‘salmon eggs’. Similar shapes repeat themselves across the work. An invasion of bright orange blobs and fluorescent yellow arms with tiny hands ready to carry and care. The screaming colour clash comes from my genuine fear for “inflammation!”, however, I strongly believe in the healing power of holding, carrying and caring together. A ritual will be performed live as part of the work on 3rd November at the Lighthouse in Poole.
Supported by the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam.
Dorset Waterbodies, a Common / Weal
Landscape poem sequence, 2021
My poem sequence Dorset Waterbodies, a Common / Weal was made with the support of Arts Council England funding over the course of 2020/1 for Cape Farewell’s RiverRun project. Informed by the research of scientists studying the watershed feeding into Poole Bay, and particularly the Salmon, who spawn upriver in the chalk streams, these texts (in 5 parts) voice the impacts of pollution and the climate crisis on the more-than-human world, and draw on my sense of people’s cooperative nature to inspire a collective response.
Developing Your Creative Practice funding has enabled me not only to engage in onsite fieldwork with river ecologists, microbiologists and oceanographers, but also to experiment with staging my first poetry exhibition in collaboration with the other Cape Farewell artists. In seeking diverse ways to engage audiences with ecopoetry, I’ve chosen to place extracts of my text on the gallery walls and to incorporate it into an installation within the space. Listen via SoundCloud.
I’m grateful to David Buckland for his support with creating this installation, to Mark Simmons for the image of Durdle Door, and to Michael Ormiston for recording the poems.
Photographs often are accompanied by text, to clarify the subject, where, when etc. During the year-long research process with the other artists, scientists and farmers, I gathered a series of very interesting images documenting the activity and influences. Each image told a story of how the River Frome was coping with the changes in climate, the pollution and how important it is to the Salmon run and for our own wellbeing. However, it became apparent that the image itself was often mysterious and needed text to give insight into what is happening in the photograph. For example the one above – what exactly were these grown men doing and why.
I was also interested in the layers of meaning behind each image, why it was important to us and what was the science behind it. The texts that are in and around each image are supplied by people I showed the photographs to, whether it be friends, other artists or scientists. It has been a great year of artistic research and storytelling, all based in Cape Farewell’s new artists studios at the WaterShed, as we artists discovered more and more about how our local ecology works and why it is stressed.
The River Frome cuts through the farmland that supplies our food, it cuts through our towns and villages and eventually to the urban sprawl of Poole Harbour. It also carries its own history as a chalk river and as one of our most important salmon runs. It is a symbol of all that’s strong about our complex society and all that is doing significant damage to the environment that supports its ecology. Importantly, the river also supports our own sense of wellbeing, a place of focus, recreation, food/farming and water.
Part of Cape Farewell’s wAteR-climaTe festival at Lighthouse, Poole, 3–10 Nov 2021. An inspiring and provocative climate and art festival featuring new visual art, film, spoken word, music, poetry and debate. Bringing current climate science to life with simplicity and directness. Find out more