Site Visits – Tryweryn

Reconnecting with the space at Tryweryn was always going to be an interesting time. Although I have visited this location many times already to take site photography, each time has been different and we have found more signs of the history of the location.

This time was no exception, the water level being extremely low has exposed much more along the shoreline and new perspectives were gained from visiting the site and being able to walk where we had been uable to previously – below the previous water line.

Our first stop was to visit the beach where we first took photographs, the water line had dropped roughly 50 feet or more and it was very eerie walking across the rocks that had previously been underwater.

We walked across the dam to the other side where we were able to walk below the overflow for the reservoir, along the shoreline there were signs of a previous life with what looked like farmers fencing drifting off into the water – previously we had not been able to see this.

At the top end of the reservoir nature had begun to reclaim the land, unlike Thruscross which was very sparse and muddy, vegitation had begun to grow on the land below the waterline near to the church at Tryweryn. The water line was so low that what I believe to be remain of a bridge was somewhat visible though not quite as much as pictures I had seen when the water level dropped in the drought of 1996.

At Thruscross it was very clear that deforestation had taken place to make way for the reservoir, yet at Tryweryn there were only a few trees that had been cut down leaving the tree stumps to remain underwater, only to become visible when the water line dropped.

What was very noticable at both Thruscross and Tryweryn was the absense of wildlife below the water line, almost like the creatures of the area knew to stay away

 

 

Site Visits – Haweswater, Thrusscross & Derwent

Having considered my intention to reflect further on the communities displaced to make way for a reservoir, I decided to investigate further so that I might expand the scope of the project. There are 570 reservoirs in the UK with the largest being Rutland Water. There were many reservoirs created in the 1800’s and early part of the 1900’s, all create to meet the increased meed for water supply through the increase in population and the development of industry. I know that there were changes approved in parliament that made way for the easy construction of these reservoirs, and these parliamentary bills are something I need to research further so that I can fully understand the process that allowed the building of these reservoirs in the first place.

The following reservoirs, I have identified as sites where communities displaced to make way for the reservoir to meet these increased water needs.

  • Tryweryn Reservoir – village of Capel Celyn, Liverpool Corporation, 1965
  • Lake Vyrnwy – village of Llanwddyn, Liverpool Corporation, 188’s
  • Haweswater Reservoir – village of Mardale Green, Manchester Corporation, 1935
  • Thruscross Reservoir – village of West End, Leeds Corporation, (1966
  • Ladybower Reservoir – village of Ashopton, Derwent Valley Water Board, 1943
  • Derwent Reservoir – village of Derwent, Derwent Valley Water Board, 1943

I am also interested in the Elan Valley Reservoirs created by Birmingham Corporation to provide water to Birmingham this may well become an extension to this project. I have applied once for a residency in the Elan Valley and hope to apply again next year (2019).

Having the need to spend some time at a location for me to get a sense of the physicality, I decided to organise a weekend of site visits. A lot of miles, but well worth the time. Over one weekend we visited Haweswater, Thruscross, Ladybower and Derwent Reservoirs where I collected photographic evidence and had the opportunity to gain the essence of the energy around each of the reservoirs. Continuing this, I soon plan to re-visit Tryweryn and Lake Vyrnwy too.

To form a link with my previous work, we set off armed with my whirly gig and some plain white shirts used previously a clear reference to the domestic reasoning behind the creation of these reservoirs and was a good creative link for me to use to help with my thought process.

At Haweswater, it was very clear to me that the Water Authority did not want people to have access to the reservoir. However, the reservoir walls built a long time ago had somewhat disintegrated, we jumped over to record some footage. Whilst I was at Haweswater, I felt very on edge and unsettled, feeling very nauseous too – more reflection needs to take place for me to understand why this might have been.

 

It was clear that the water level at Haweswater was low; however, it did not appear to be that low. We did not drive to the end of the reservoir where we may have seen some of the remains of the village – at that point, I was under the impression the reservoir levels would be too high to see anything.

It was only when we arrived at Thruscross; I saw how low the water had become for some of these reservoirs. We visited Thruscross twice over the two days. To be honest, Thruscross on paper was the reservoir I was least interested in – I had not completed a lot of research for here and believed that the reservoir filled long after the community had left. However, a discussion with someone who remembers being in West End as a child revealed a different story. A community was indeed, displaced by the reservoir here and bodies exhumed in the process.

Upon our first visit to Thruscross, we crossed the dam and made my way down to the edge of the water where we set up and took some photography. On the way back up to the water line I noticed there were many fragments of pottery and rusty pipes, along with walls and foundations – signs of buildings and daily life in a place where life had not existed for a very long time. At the time, I felt this was the site of the mill but later discovered that this had been a sailing club in the past.

 

The next morning we returned to Thruscross with the intention of walking the opposite shore to where we had been the day before and this yielded some interesting insights. Signs of buildings and the village of West End along the shore, and the further we walked towards the point where the river meets the reservoir it was clear that this was indeed the site of the village and the mill. We were able to gather some interesting footage and spend time in a place that is usually submerged.

 

To make way for the reservoir many trees were cut down along the shore. These trees are clearly normally below the water line. However, the effect of being underwater has washed away the dirt around them exposing their roots and they still clearly show the marks from being cut down, some fifty-odd years ago. I found these tree stumps fascinating as to me they reflected a memory of a life that existed prior to the reservoir that had simply and brutally been cut short/down. I have much inspiration to work with sculpture here. They remind me of creatures that roam the woods and appear like they are crawling out from the water – Wildlings!

 

 

Our last visit of our trip Ladybower where the water was exceptionally low and remnants of Ashopton very visible although not easily accessible, however when we arrived in the Derwent valley, where the Derwent reservoir has reduced to just a small river surrounded by foundations and remnants of the village of Derwent that was. What appears to be whole building is visible, I think this may have been part of the church and many people were there wandering about in the mud and sludge at the base of the reservoir. What was apparent to me was the vastness of this reservoir and the fact that the recent rain has done little to replenish the water levels. I set up my trusty whirly gig where it was not too muddy and shot some photography.

 

This visit has made me very excited to visit Tryweryn again as I am sure the water levels there will still be low too. The footage I have taken is both in colour and in monochrome, however at the moment, I feel the monochrome is more effective as it gives a feeling of nostalgia and timelessness, a long since forgotten or seen past.

UAL First Year Symposium

Give a 5-minute presentation that discusses your most recent practice acting as an introduction to your work and research proposal for your fellow students and tutors. We recommend that you prepare an illustrated talk using images or video of your work.


Recent Practice

Key techniques used as part of my process are Collage, Printmaking, Sculpture, Photography and Video incorporating found objects into the artwork.

I consider all of my work to reflect the way I view the world we live in. My work subconsciously considers social and political issues that arise as part of the practice I have developed.

When I start a piece of work I research newsworthy events that have happened in the world, in particular from a social and political viewpoint. My artwork is often a reflective observation of these events where the general population has in some way been mistreated by an overriding power, such as the residing government/politicians of the time.

My most recent work (between 2016 and 2018) presented here has been about issues that relate to Diaspora and began after some research into a local building called Tedder House in Llandudno, North Wales, named after Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, who in World War 2 was known for his strategy the ‘Tedder Carpet’ the practice of concentrated carpet bombing in support of the Allied Forces, tactics that continue to be used in today’s modern warfare.

I began researching the Syrian war, which has been ongoing for five years and during this part of my research I became aware of the many upsetting images on the internet from the Syrian war. These images had a considerable psychological effect upon me and this then became the impetus for an installation. What affected me the most was the effects of the Syrian War on the lives or ordinary women and children living in Syria and particularly Aleppo.

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I then began to reflect further on World War 2 and the effect of this war on the women and children in my local area and the evacuation of children from the UK cities into more rural areas – in this case from Liverpool to Caernarfon.

This next body of work explored the historical events associated with the evacuation of children from British inner cities during the Second World War. Many children were evacuated from Liverpool to towns and villages across the North Wales coast, including Caernarfon. Inspired by Hannah Hoch, the artist collected found objects from the era, reproduced photographs and propaganda materials to be used in the photo collage, A suitcase photo collage was created, brimming with memories from WW2 relating to the threat against Britain’s inner cities, the propaganda, and the experience of being evacuated from Liverpool to Caernarfon during this period. After reading many personal accounts of these events, the artist devised a collection of bi-lingual statements that appear to reflect the general sentiment felt by the evacuees, their parents and the prospective foster communities.

Evacuee

Evacuee 2

Evacuee 3

The focus of my next work was an attempt to look at the refugee crisis through the eyes of those experiencing these circumstances first hand, the refugees themselves, their experience, their treatment, the barriers and the stereotyping that they face on a daily basis.

A long-held belief that humanity, dignity and respect are basic human rights that everyone deserves irrespective of his or her circumstances, the refugee crisis highlights the lack of humanity in our society today.

Inspired by the increasing efforts of many artists to raise awareness of the refugee crisis, in particular, Ai Wei Wei and the Migration Museum, I wanted to create work that says, “Look at how these people are treated, this could be you or me”. Ultimately I ended up with an installation of blankets made from materials that could be used in a Refugee Camp for temporary shelter.

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My next collection of work considered being decoupled from a homeland and the experience of dispersal that a subsequent journey of migration can bring. A reflection of an individual state of being and a sense of rootlessness and longing, indicates a sub-conscious social-political element relating to the subject of Diaspora.

An outsider was symbolized using a chair covered with fragments of road maps. This juxtaposed that sense of rootedness with rootlessness and in-betweenness.  It was taken on a migratory journey between a host country and a homeland. Ultimately, being cut in two to constitute two parts and divided roots. This journey was then recorded using photography and film.

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Reflecting on the work that I had produced between 2016 and this point (early 2018) I began to make some connections that not just reflected the issue of Diaspora but the associations of my work with historical events that continue to have relevance in our society today. I completed this two year period of reflection on Diaspora with a body of work that related to historical events that took place near to the locality that I live.

A site-specific piece about the construction of the reservoir Llyn Celyn, flooding the Tryweryn Valley and demolishing the village of Capel Celyn in the process. This piece is a continuation of an ongoing theme relating to displacement. In this case, the displacement of the village residents to provide water to Liverpool. The events that happened at the time also prompted a strong sense of Welsh Nationalism and calls for Devolution which continue to this day.

Tryweryn 3Tryweryn 2Tryweryn 1

LLAWN: John Street Project

It was a pleasure to be a part of the John Street Project at LLAWN in Llandudno in September 2018. Below are some images of my work on display.

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