Ten Steps Beyond the Line

Colliters brook disappearing underground- Matt Symonds

Imagine if we literally took ten steps beyond a flood line. How much damage to homes and amenities could be prevented? In Bristol ten steps away from our tidal waters would make a massive difference. We don’t have the capacity to physically do this, but we can offer news of … Continue reading

Some:when – celebrating cohesion through the watery heritage of the Somerset Moors and Levels

 

Some:when is a collaborative public art project conceived in response to the floods on the Somerset Moors and Levels. It is led by artists Jethro Brice and Seila Fernandez Arconada – two artists who participated as community members in Bristol High Water Line, and ran the Fluid Tense workshops in St Werburghs

We are working together with individuals and community groups affected by the floods to support and amplify the remarkable resilience of Somerset communities in responding creatively to the floods. While the Media have often presented the floods as a matter of division and controversy, we have been struck by the voices from the ground which have worked to develop shared responses to the crisis.

Working with local groups in and around Langport, we will create a replica of the traditional Somerset Flatner from reclaimed materials, sourced in the immediate environment. Designed as a practical and affordable solution for navigating life in a changeable environment, this characteristic Somerset boat is an iconic local design that represents the centrality of both water and human ingenuity in shaping the history of life on the levels.

The boat will be fitted out with a bright and decorative sail compiled from the collected stories of children and young people affected by the floods. Through creative, participatory workshops they will be encouraged to share and reflect on their experiences and articulate a vision of Somerset’s future.

Local groups are invited to accompany the Flatner on a triumphant journey from Langport to Bridgwater on the outgoing tide. We will liaise with both local and national press and charities and national organisations to raise the profile of the event and present a refreshingly positive story that better represents the joint voices of the Levels.

As artists who work with people and nature, we have experience working with communities to address social and environmental issues through creative collaboration. We both have a long-standing interest in the Somerset Moors and Levels, and we have been following conversations on twitter, facebook and in the local press, as well as the formation of the 2030 vision statement from the Levels and Moors Task Force. We believe it is important to make visible the strong voices of Somerset people, working together to respond to the challenges of flooding.

 

For more information visit www.some-when.co.uk

 

Flat Earth? Flat St Werburghs!

I live in St Werbughs. If you live here too, or if you’ve ever visited, you’ll know that flatness is something of a state of mind. Trundling around on a bike is incredibly relaxed – no Nine Tree Hill or St Michaels Hill here!

It causes me to pause and consider how vulnerable we are as a community.

You will probably have seen the historical flood markers dotted around the place.
Photo courtesey of Bristol Culture

They mark the 1882 flood in which three inches of rain fell within 48 hours.

And as recently as 1958, there were ankle-deep floods here in St Werburghs.
Photo courtesey of Bristol Culture
These events and signposts are a reminder that before proper drainage came along, many many more communities were immediately vulnerable to the extremities and ravages of nature in Bristol.

Other than the right drainage – which thankfully we now have – how else can we build resilience into our communities?

The HighWaterLine art project is a visual way of reminding us of our vulnerability and of the imagination and creativity that is needed to combat the country’s biggest national security threat – climate change. All communities must talk about this and adapt to changed and changing circumstances.

Harnessing the power of water is one way we can build that resilience into our community’s life. The streams and gullies that run through Ashley Vale – from the Boiling Wells, to the Horfield Brook that runs through Mina Road Park – may have lost a bit of their kick, but it’s clear that hydro-electric power will be a key factor in building an economically sustainable energy system for the future.

And thinking slightly wider, we must all come to recognise the great natural resources we have in Bristol. Combining flood prevention with power generation in the City Docks, and in the Severn and Avon estuaries, is a huge possibility for us.

The UK has such vast natural renewable resources of wind, wave, water that are still largely untapped. We still need the long-sought renewables revolution to protect us from and bring us into closer contact with the planet that we are sustained by.

As we chalk and paint the line in the coming days, connecting communities across Bristol and getting to grips with each others’ views on climate change, let’s think of more ways to ensure that our beloved (and flat!) landscape is one that remains a relaxed environment, and not a torrent of problems.

 

Residents chalked the HighWaterLine in St Werbughs on 16th September 2014, and celebrated the watery history with local historians and artists. See: St Werburghs