In late 2018, Andrew Howe (Shropshire, UK) and Kim V. Goldsmith (NSW, Australia) began working together via the international art programme, (Arts) Territory Exchange. They each researched and made many visits to make field recordings in their respective wetlands at the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses (UK) and Macquarie Marshes (Australia). Their individual and collaborative work reflects local differences and shared global challenges for these fragile environments on opposite sides of the planet.
The individual and collaborative artworks resulting from the Mosses and Marshes project have been shown in exhibitions in UK at: Qube, Oswestry (Oct 2021), Wem Town Hall (Sept/Oct 2021), Theatre Severn Shrewsbury (Dec 2021 – Mar 2022) and Gateway Gallery, Shrewsbury (Sept 2022) and in Australia at M16 Artspace, Canberra (Apr-May 2022), Outback Arts, Coonamble, NSW (May-Jun 2022), and Window on the Wetlands Centre, Warren, NSW (July 2022).
The work includes video, sound, prints, paintings and collage revealing hidden narratives that the artists explored in their research, in conversations with each other and with people from the communities local to the wetlands. A selection of the artworks is presented below:
KIM V. GOLDSMITH
An Ancient Land: a history of the wetland in chapters, 2021
HD video with sound, duration 16’12”
Australia is an ancient land, formed over millions of years of rifting, drifting, and drying. Over time, the ancestral plates that smashed together came to form the basis of ancestral lands that shaped a human culture that is tens of thousands of years old. The landing of Captain James Cook on this ancient land 250 years ago in 1770 reshaped Australia forever, smashing together cultures like ancestral plates, buckling, and grinding with a friction still humming through the centuries — like the unheard vibration of fencing wire in the wind. Fencing wire when it became more widely used in the second half of the 19th century, symbolised the new Australia — an ‘untamed’ territory explored, surveyed, staked, mapped, named, carved up and farmed by those with the sense and sensibilities of strangers in a foreign land. The wetland’s voice lost in this history, her songs and stories became hidden behind locked gates, shared with few. The next chapter is ours to shape. What will it be?
KIM V. GOLDSMITH & ANDREW HOWE
The Tone of Things, 2021
HD video with sound, duration 03’03”
Tone tells the truth even when words don’t. It’s hard to define. As humans, we understand the influence tone can have on conversations, on trust, on decision-making. The more-than-human world of the wetlands generates their own tone. Too often though, when heard together our tones are discordant. This video was created by remote collaboration. It brings together underwater footage from the Macquarie Marshes (Australia) with handmade papers from the birch and reeds of Whixall Moss (UK), with a layered soundtrack of atmospheric and hydro-acoustic sounds and tones inspired by and generated from field recordings captured on both sites.
KIM V. GOLDSMITH & ANDREW HOWE
I am Walking, 2021
Spoken word & field recorded soundscape, duration 07’04”
The artists invite you to join them in sharing the experience of walking across their respective landscapes, from north to south.
Credits: Field recordings, music tracks and sound effects in this work have been designed, composed, and recorded by the artists, except in Andrew Howe’s Mosses walk with the use of a track by jaegrover on freesound.org licensed under CC1.0
KIM V. GOLDSMITH
Sonic Stories of the Wetlands
- Droughted Silence, 06’50
- Fire in the Marshes, 06’10
- The Water Returns, 06’29
- Before First Light, 03’40
- Gated Sunrise, 03’00
- Evening Symphony, 04’50
- Reimagined Futures, 04’05
Collage, papers handmade with silver birch, bracken, heather, reeds and purple moor grass
Materials gathered from the Mosses are used to create a representation of the map of the areas of land either side of the border between England and Wales which were enclosed and divided into grids for peat cutting
Whixall Bibles, 2022
Whixall Bible (Artefact)
Whixall Bible (Starfish)
Whixall Bible (Peat Cutting)
Whixall Bible (Territory)
Whixall Bible (Fenn’s Old Works)
Rust prints and botanical inks made with sloes, alder, ivy berry, silver birch, bracken and heather on paper
Whixall Bible was the local name given to blocks of peat cut by hand tools from the Moss over many decades until a more intensive industrial method was employed. I constructed these blocks to the same traditional dimensions of 9 x 7 x 4 inches.
A multiplicity of motifs reveal hidden narratives within the layered human history of the landscape. Human created geometry is reflected in Bronze Age metalwork designs, roads and irrigation systems, steel framed peat processing building, fire baskets used for the Starfish Strategic Decoy site of World War 2, and the regular grid of peat cutting. Rust prints were added from car components found in the former scrapyard at Whixall Moss. These geometric forms are set against fluid mark-making inspired by organic non-human features of the landscape.
Bog Sequence, 2022
Botanical inks made with sloes, alder, ivy berry, silver birch, bracken and heather on paper
As a response to Kim V. Goldsmith’s video work of the Macquarie Marshes, I examined textures and details of the Mosses’ flora and fauna. Acknowledging history’s changing relations between human and more-than-human in the Mosses, this work explores tensions between analogue and digital, organic and geometric, order and chaos. Horizontals reflect the wide, flat peat bog landscape whilst the vertical “stacks” call to mind the slow build-up of layers of Sphagnum moss creating the peat.
Moving the Earth I & II, 2021
Mixed media collage
Two assemblages of handmade papers, monoprints, linocut prints and paintings using botanical inks/pigments. These two pieces explore the textures and lines incised into the land by peat cutting and in the materials of the land.
Peat Cutting Tools, 2021
Sloe, alder and oak gall inks on canvas
Ivy berry, bracken and oak gall inks on canvas
Sloe ink and rust on canvas
Silver birch and acorn inks and rust on canvas
Curlews calling, 2021
Alder and oak gall inks and rust on canvas
Water Rising, 2021
Ivy leaf and heather inks and rust on canvas
Mosses Sequences I-III, 2022
Folded acrylic monoprints on paper
Continuing the use of motifs of maps, lines and incorporating direct prints from foraged plants, these prints are folded into sequences and 3D forms as a response to walking in the landscape.
Moss Blocks I-V, 2022
Acrylic monoprints on paper folded into blocks
Motifs of maps, lines and incorporating direct prints from foraged plants, these prints are folded into blocks as a response to walking the land, reflecting the ordering of landscape and cutting of peat.
#006, #009, #011, #015, #023, #025, #033, #034
8 prints from a series of over 30 small collagraphs inspired by objects, mostly smashed car fragments, found in the disused breakers’ yard at Whixall Moss, which has been restored by Shropshire Wildlife Trust.