Following the award of a grant from Arts Council England, the Mosses and Marshes project was launched via social media and project websites on World Wetlands Day, 2nd February 2021. The ACE grant, combined with funding secured in Australia, will allow the artists involved to create artworks and run events and exhibitions in their respective local communities, as well as nationally and internationally.
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The Mosses and Marshes project questions how we think about and value natural environments through works centred on the raised peat bogs of Fenn’s Bettisfield and Whixall Mosses NNR on the border between England and Wales and the iconic Macquarie Marshes in New South Wales, Australia. The changing environments of these two internationally recognised wetlands are under the microscope in an exciting collaboration between artists, land managers and environmental specialists in the UK and Australia.
Andrew Howe (UK) and Kim V. Goldsmith (Australia) are co-leading the project exploring each unique site and environmental challenges we face on opposing sides of the planet. Andrew Howe is partnering with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England as they carry out their scrapyard restoration and peatbog conservation projects, while Kim has been partnering with the Macquarie Wetlands Association, as well as tapping into the knowledge of various wetland and water management specialists to explore elements of the Macquarie Marshes.
Andrew said “We are delighted and hugely grateful to Arts Council England for this public funding from the National Lottery. This enables us towork with five other artists: Elizabeth Turner and Keith Ashford, Sue Challis, Kate Johnston and Lydia Halcrow, artist/curator Gudrun Filipska of Arts Territory Exchange, Mediaactive Projects CIC and local partners Wem Youth Club and Shropshire Wildlife Trust.”
After being introduced to each other through international remote collaboration organisation, Arts Territory Exchange in 2018, the two lead artists have used scientific research, site visits and field recordings to develop ideas, exploring some of the more hidden values of the wetlands; those values not often considered in the fight to preserve them.
Kim said, “Andrew and I use similar processes to explore sites, really getting to know both human and ecological perspectives by spending time there – while my focus is the use of technology to dig deeper into the landscape, Andrew is a walking artist working in a range of media. We’ve both been very interested in weaving the stories behind the wetlands into the works, drawing out the commonalities that often have to do with shared hopes for the future of these environments.”
The artists hope this will develop into a longer-term project, establishing a platform for future artist residencies. The first phase includes new artworks for public exhibition, workshops, walks and talks, and a project publication due for release prior to the first exhibition at Qube Gallery, Oswestry in October. Australian exhibitions in Coonamble, NWW and Canberra will follow in 2022.
The artists launched the project with a preview:
Kim V. Goldsmith & Andrew Howe, The Tone of Things, HD video with sound, due: 0’33”
A taste of what’s to come, The Tone of Things is a video and sound mix layering handmade paper made from the reeds of Whixall Moss (UK) with underwater footage from the reedbeds of the Macquarie Marshes (AU), accompanied by tones generated in post-production from field recordings captured on both sites, atmospheric sounds from the wetlands, and hydroacoustics of water plants with their roots deep in the mud.
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