Talking Dirty: Tongue First! Experiments at the Mouth of the Thames

Calling people of Essex join us for a Southend tongue first experimentation and citizen science workshops!

'Talking Dirty: Tongue First!' is a series of public events involving local foods, their source, preparation and consumption, leading to a recipe book produced in collaboration with the situated knowledge of South Essex people, containing instructions for cooking with estuary ingredients: from Thames fish to back garden elderflower cordial.

Through public, cooking and eating workshops in Leigh-on-Sea, we will create public tastings that explore environmental change. Alongside these tastings, citizen science workshops will investigate the traces of waste disposal on the 'unnatural' nature reserve of Two Tree Island in Leigh-on-Sea.

The project is led by local Southend artists Fran Gallardo, YoHa and Andy Freeman with environmental chemist and food scientist Mark Scrimshaw.

The citizen science workshops will involve using digital and mobile technologies to investigate the legacy of generations of industrial use (and misuse) in the estuary landscape.

Talking Dirty is part of Wrecked on The Intertidal Zone, an art and citizen science project that will uncover and highlight local knowledge about the changing ecology, society and industry of the Thames estuary. Artists YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble, Andy Freeman and Fran Gallardo, with The Arts Catalyst, are collaborating with local people in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea.

See the project website for more information: http://www.tonguefirst.com/

Public Events & Workshops:

Open Jamming at Leigh-on-Sea Maritime Festival. Come one, come all!
Date: Sunday 2 August 2015, 11am – 4pm

Location: Victoria Wharf, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend
Booking: No booking required
Join local artists Fran Gallardo and YoHa at Leigh-on-Sea's annual Maritime Festival. You will find us somewhere among the sea shanties and Maldon oysters. We encourage you to bring berries and edible flowers samples from your garden, park or elsewhere to create an 'Open Jamming' (please bring the postcode as well). We will prepare jam, cordials and other seasonal cocktails on which you can choose from where berries have the sweetest earthy taste, which elderberries tickle your tongue the most, and create collective jam and cordials!
PS: We would love to hear about your recipes using local ingredients
Fluids and Mud Science (citizen science workshop 1)

Date: Saturday 15 August 2015, 10am – 5pm
Meeting Point: Fishermens Chapel, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9

Booking: please email admin@artscatalyst.org
Investigate Two Tree Island in this day workshop led by Andy Freeman with Two Tree scientific expert Dr Mark Scrimshaw (Reader in Environmental Chemistry at Brunel University) to explore the use of scientific testing outdoors. Participants will learn about and make observations of a range of gases and contaminants found in the air and water in the Thames estuary using testing kits. Observations will be geotagged using mobile phones and then uploaded to a custom digital map of the locality and shared online.
Wildlife and Not So Wild Life (citizen science workshop 2)

Date: Saturday 22 August 2015, 10am – 5pm

Meeting Point: Fishermens Chapel, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9

Booking: please email admin@artscatalyst.org 
Andy Freeman and Mark Scrimshaw with local reserves manager Marc Outten (Essex Wildlife Trust) lead this workshop, which will bring together wild life spotting, digital technologies and scientific testing of the elements. Get to know your fellow organisms, animals and local inhabitants of this complex nature reserve, including the people and industries that surround it.
Public Tasting: Explore your Tongue

Date: Sunday 30 August 2015, 7pm - 8pm)
Location: High Street, Belton Way Beach, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend (follow the railway line along High Street towards the cockle sheds)
Fran Gallardo will lead an open air cooking experiment for using local ingredients (menu released on the day). Fran will present intriguing recipes that represent and re-imagine webs of connections between gastronomy and ecology within many environments: from human microbiomes, eels, fungi, geese, ships, landfills and human-made islands. Come and taste, smell and dive into the sensorial experience of the estuary and all its complex delicacies!


Leigh Regatta: Chachacha with Local Ingredients

Date: Sunday 20 September 2015, 10.30am – 5pm

Location: High Street, Belton Way Beach, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend (follow the railway line along High Street towards the cockle sheds)
Before Autumn sets in, the artists and The Arts Catalyst will present one more chance for a tongue first exploration. Come and join us for a sensory undressing of the estuary where you can try a mixture of ingredients collected and prepared from the estuary! Artist Andy Freeman will be conducting scientific testing of local edible plants and food between 2pm - 4pm. Please drop by!

Artists Residency: Tongue First Research Centre

Date: January 2016 (exact dates announced soon)

Location: The Arts Catalyst, 74-76 Cromer Street, London WC1H 8DR

Fran Gallardo will lead a week long residency at the Arts Catalyst's Centre for Art, Science and Technology. Further details announced in September.
 
Talking Dirty is supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award, Arts Council England and Leigh Town Council.
 Many thanks to the Institute of Environmental, Health and Societies (Brunel University), Belton Way Small Craft Club, BioHackspace LondonEssex Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Leigh Marina Secure Measures Ltd., Southend Council and Metal (Southend).
 
Please note we do not encourage large groups of people foraging or collecting plants from local areas along the estuary. The Two Tree Island is considered a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (see https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/natural-england) and is a National Nature Reserve (see  http://www.essexwt.org.uk/reserves/two-tree-island) where wildlife is not to be disturbed.   
 
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Event

Holoturian

A new commission by Ariel Guzik for Edinburgh Art Festival 2015. ‘Holoturian’ is an underwater resonance instrument designed by Guzik to communicate with whales and dolphins in the deep seas.

This new work is commissioned and produced by Arts Catalyst with Edinburgh Art Festival 2015.

For the last 10 years, the artist, musician, illustrator and inventor Ariel Guzik has searched for a way to communicate with whales and dolphins. Guzik’s project has encompassed the creation of underwater instruments, expeditions to contact whales and dolphins off the coasts of Baja California, Costa Rica and Scotland, sound recordings, and numerous fantastical drawings of this cetacean civilisation and underwater ships and gardens.

Guzik’s extraordinary vision is to build a manned underwater ship – the Narcisa - with the intention of enabling encounters between humans and cetaceans as inhabitants of parallel civilisations, free from hierarchies or intentions of domination or subordination, and devoid of utilitarian or practical research interests.

Commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Edinburgh Art Festival 2015, his new project brings the artist closer to his goal. For this show, his first exhibition in the UK, Guzik is constructing a beautiful capsule, the Holoturian, designed to send a living plant and a string instrument for a period of time into the depths of the sea. Imagined and re-imagined in extraordinary drawings made by Guzik over the past decade, this ship has instrumentation, which expresses life, space, harmony and brightness as primary messages, and is dedicated to sperm whales and other deep ocean creatures. 

The installation is part of Edinburgh Art Festival's 2015 commissions programme, presenting new work by leading Scottish and international emerging and established contemporary artists, and will be displayed at Edinburgh’s gothic kirk Trinity Apse.

The following events have now passed.
Location: Trinity Apse, Chalmers Close, 42 High St, EH1 1SS

Sat 1 August 2015, 11.30am
Ariel Guzik in conversation with environmental scientist and campaigner, Mark Simmonds OBE, chaired by Art Catalyst Director, Nicola Triscott.

Sat 1 August 2015, 7pm
Field recordings by Nature Expression and Resonance Research Laboratory Soundscape and performance by Ariel Guzik, Alejandro Colinas and Emilio Galvez.
A unique opportunity to hear Mexican artist Ariel Guzik perform live in a specially devised set combining electronic music with field recordings of whales and dolphins.

Soundscape and performance by Ariel Guzik, Alejandro Colinas and Emilio Galvez Field recordings by Nature Expression and Resonance Research Laboratory


'Holoturian’ is commissioned and produced by Arts Catalyst with Edinburgh Art Festival 2015.

Ariel Guzik is supported by Wellcome Trust, British Council, EventScotland, Museums Galleries Edinburgh, Arts Council England and the following Mexican institutions, as part of The Year of Mexico in the UK 2015: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) through the Mexican Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID), the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA), the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), and The Anglo Mexican Foundation.

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Living Assemblies - Design Your Silken Self

‘Living Assemblies’ is a hands-on workshop, led by designer and researcher Veronica Ranner, investigating the coupling of the biological material silk with digital technologies. 

This workshop is organised in partnership with The Arts Catalyst and in cooperation with Furtherfield.

We invite participants (experts in their own field – artists, designers, scientists, writers, technologists, academics, and activists) to join a weekend-long workshop, in which we will experiment with silk and a range of transient materials to imagine potential future applications for combining biological and digital media.

Traditional methods of crafting silk have barely changed in 5000 years, but recent explorations by scientists are uncovering extraordinary new potential uses for this material.  Reverse engineered silk is one of the few biomaterials not rejected by the human body. Rather, able to be fully absorbed by human tissue, it allows for a range of applications within and interacting with the body, including human bone and tissue replacements, biosensors and biodegradable electronics opening the potential to imagine new wearables and imlantables with a range of functions.

During this two-day workshop, participants will collaboratively explore the potential of reverse engineered silk, currently confined to laboratories. Taking the body as the first site for investigation, Veronica Ranner will ask participants to consider themselves as living assemblies that can be hacked, enhanced and patched into through using bio-digital materials. Activities will involve material experiments combined with a narrative design process to speculate on silk's possible future use in the world.

Workshop details


Day 1

With Veronica Ranner, Clemens Winkler and Luke Franzke, participants will be introduced to transient materials — such as reversed engineered silk — through hands-on experimentation with a range of materials, including agar-agar, gelatine, fibroin, glucose and silk-fibres. They will use digital methods and circuits and combine them with silken materials, to then begin forming their own ideas into speculative objects and artworks.
 

Day 2

Innovator, scientist and intermedia artist, Gjino Sutic will introduce the concept of ‘bio-tweaking’: improving and hacking living organisms, for example through metabolism hacking, neuro-tweaking, tissue engineering and organ growing. Participants will work together with science writer Frank Swain to construct narratives around their work. In the final session, participants will map out their ideas in discussion with the group.


Workshop Leader

Veronica Ranner is a designer, artist and researcher living and working in London. She researches the burgeoning domain of the bio–digital — a converging knowledge space where digitality and computational thinking meet biological matter. She dissects and creates tangible and immaterial manifestations of such collisions, examining hereby the polyphonic potential of alternative technological futures. Her current doctoral work explores paradigm shifts in reality perception by coupling speculative (bio)material strategies and information experience through design research. Veronica holds a degree in Industrial Design from Pforzheim University, a Masters in Design Interactions (RCA), and has worked trans-disciplinary with a variety of science institutions and biomedical companies, and she teaches and lectures internationally. Her work is exhibited internationally, including at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2012), Science Gallery, Dublin (2012), China Technology Museum, Beijing (2012), Ventura Lambrate, Milan (2013) and French Design Biennale, St. Etienne (2013). She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Royal College of Art’s Information Experience Design programme and is interested in complex networked cycles, emerging (bio-) technologies and biological fabrication, systems design, material futures and new roles for designers.

Co- facilitators

Clemens Winkler, designer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland.
Luke Franzke, designer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland.
Frank Swain, science writer and journalist.
Gjino Sutic, innovator, scientist and artist; Director of the Universal Institute in Zagreb, Croatia.
Other experts joining discussions during the workshops will be Bio-informatician Dr Derek Huntley (Imperial College).


Partners & Support

The project is a collaboration between The Creative Exchange Hub at the Royal College of Art, Tufts University (Boston, MA), The Arts Catalyst (London), and Imperial College (London), and hosted and in collaboration with Furtherfield (London). The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Creative Exchange is a national initiative that brings together the best creative and digital minds from leading universities with dynamic and entrepreneurial companies, to create innovative new digital products and services. The Creative Exchange is led by Lancaster University, Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art; funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Find out more at www.thecreativeexchange.org 

Furtherfield is the UK's leading organisation for arts, technology and social change. Since 1997 Furtherfield has created online and physical spaces and places for people to come together to develop and create critical and experimental art and digital technologies on their own terms.
 

Resources & readings:

[1] Primo Levi (1984), Periodic Table, New York: Schocken Books Inc. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Periodic-Table-Primo-Levi/dp/0805210415)
[2] High Low tech instructions for circuits (http://highlowtech.org/?p=1372)
[3] Floridi, L. (2009). Against Digital Ontology in Synthèse,168(1): pp. 151-178. Available at: http://www.philosophyofinformation.net/publications/pdf/ado.pdf
[4] Hu, T. ; Brenckle, M. A., Yan, M. et al. (2012). Silk-Based Conformal, Adhesive, Edible Food Sensors in Advanced Materials, vol 24, nr 8, 1067-1072. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103814.
[5] Hwang, S-W., Tao, H., Kim, D.-H., et al. (2012), A Physically Transient Form of Silicon Electronics. In Science 337(6102): 1640–1644. DOI:10.1126/science.1226325.          
[6] Transient Electronics (2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnmHZXvJhlk
[7] Fiorenzo Omenetto: Silk, the ancient material of the future (2011), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqqWw3xkMzA
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Martin O'Brien: Taste of Flesh/Bite Me I'm Yours

A new performance work by Martin O'Brien, to be presented as part of the ongoing European project - 'Trust me, I'm an Artist: towards an ethics of art/science collaboration'.

'Trust me, I'm an Artist' is a European initiative exploring ethical issues in art that enage with biotechnology and medicine, such as medical self-experimentation, extreme body art, and art practices using living materials and scientific process.

Martin O’Brien’s live art practice uses physical endurance, disgust and pain-based practices to explore the meaning of being born with a life threatening disease (cystic fibrosis) by confronting others’ responses to illness.

In this new durational performance,Taste of Flesh / Bite Me I'm Yours, commissioned by Arts Catalyst and hosted by SPACE c/o The White Building - O’Brien turns his attention to the fear of contamination associated with the sick body. In doing so, he highlights recent acute public anxiety around the risk of infection and the surge in depictions of the zombie in popular culture. The traditional sci-fi figure of contagion - the zombie often reflects environmental, political, or societal concerns, all of which are referenced in O'Briens new piece. O’Brien’s performance will be followed by a discussion with a specially convened ethics committee of Professor Karen Lowton (Department of Sociology, University of Sussex), Dr Gianna Bouchard (Department of Music and Performing Arts, Anglia Ruskin University), and Lois Keidan (Director, Live Art Development Agency), chaired by Professor Bobbie Farsides (Brighton and Sussex Medical School)

 

Programme

3pm - 6pm Performance by Martin O'Brien * (Free, drop in)
6pm - 7pm Break
7pm - 8.30pm Panel discussion and Q&A (Booking required, £5)

* This is a durational performance, audience members are welcome to stay for the duration however can also enter /leave when they wish.

 

Collaborators

This event is commissioned and produced by Arts Catalyst in cooperation with SPACE c/o the White Building. The project 'Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration' is led by artist Anna Dumitriu in collaboration with Professor Bobbie Farsides in collaboration with the Waag Society. Taste of Flesh/Bite Me I'm Yours by Martin O'Brien forms part of Jareh Das's research into perceptions of pain in performance, audience witnessing and ethics, in collaboration with Arts Catalyst.

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Making a universe

Making a Universe explores artistic and scientific practices that deal with contained and extreme environments.

Alistair McClymont creates poetic machines that contain 'natural' environments, making a universe of their own.  Scientists similarly create miniature stars that imitate the birth of stars.

Alistair McClymont recently completed a three-month residency at the Central Laser Facility.  Dr Ceri Brenner is a physicist who enjoys communicating the extreme and inspiring science that she and others carry out at CLF.

The CLF produces some of the world’s most powerful light beams, providing scientists with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. These high powered lasers are used to recreate the extreme conditions inside stars and planets, others can reveal intricate detail on a microscopic scale enabling scientists to build up a complex picture of the exact molecular interactions that lead to disease.  The CLF also uses laser beam 'tweezers' capable of holding individual micro-droplets that make up clouds helping scientists gain an insight into climate change.

Alistair's previous work has included making night-time rainbows, suspending raindrops in mid-air and creating tornadoes with deceptively simple machines. A UK based artist working in sculpture, photography and video, McClymont describes these as ‘phenomena’ artworks, in which he tries to capture natural, often overlooked occurrences and evoke a sense of wonder.

He will be discussing his work, and time spent at the CLF, thinking about his work with scientists on experiments both as an outsider and insider, and how this has influenced his practice.

Making a Universe explores artistic and scientific practices that deal with contained and extreme environments

Book online here

Speakers

Dr Ceri Brenner is a Physicist who enjoys communicating the extreme and inspiring science that she and others carry out at the Central Laser Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Ceri’s role at the CLF spans research, innovation and communication. In particular, she is studying a form of micro-sized particle accelerator that is formed when the most intense laser light in the world strikes matter, for applications in medicine, manufacturing and security. Ceri will discuss her work, research interests and her experience of having an artist working amongst scientists. She has been closely involved in facilitating the artists' residency and will also give an introduction to the high energy density experiment on the Gemini laser that Alistair took part in during his residency.

Alistair McClymont as artist in residence has been following a team of scientists working with the Gemini Laser at the CLF studying different aspects of laser interaction. He describes the project, "My goal with this project is to investigate the strong similarity I see between scientists and artists, I wanted to do this by taking part in their experiment. My hypothesis is that both ultimately search for truth and both see beauty in that truth.

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Event

SEFT-1, Art Moves at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

SEFT-1, Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe took part in Art Moves, an event showcasing mobile art from across Europe at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during Open House London weekend.

Los Ferronautas' dazzling research probe was one of twenty-five ingenious art vehicles, that travel on land and sea being brought together by Art Moves curators Adriana Marques, Head of Arts and Culture, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Fiona Boundy, Curator and Project Director for ELMO.

In addition to showing the SEFT-1 vehicle, the film of Los Ferronautas brothers will be screened and Andrés Domene gave a talk as part of the Art Moves event programme.

The weekend event was part of the arts and culture strategy for the Park following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Art Moves featured work by Adam Chodzco, Nicole Mollett, Mark Dion, Public Works, Aberrant Architecture, Lone Twin, Tim Meacham, Avant Gardening and Lisa Cheung, Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale, ELMO, Walker and Bromwich, Richard Brown, Bureau of Silly Ideas, Francis Thorburn, Up Projects, Albion Kids Show and Jane Watt.

 

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Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers

Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa, the last of three workshops presented as Fruits of the Thames, part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary with YoHa.

YoHa will guide you through the potential hazards of eating wild herbs, plants and fruits of the former landfill site of Two Tree Island. We will meet you at the Leigh-on-Sea station and go for walk and collect edible plants along the way. After the walk we will move to Fisherman’s Chapel in Leigh where we will make some lunch out of what we harvest in the morning and taste them.

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear and walking shoes. Bring a small sharp knife or secateurs and a plastic container for harvesting edibles.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Partner

Joint workshop with Digital Housing Hub project in association with South Essex Homes

Links

Mud walking June 2014 http://vimeo.com/101228535

Interview at the workshop "Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames" on Leigh maritime festival July 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5DJPqsImvs

YoHa website about this project http://yoha.co.uk/wrecked

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Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science

The second of three workshops presented as Fruits of the Thames, part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary with YoHa.

Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

With GPS enabled camera phones and free online tools its now easier than ever to make useful, fun and beautiful maps that can show anything from your holiday snaps to the distribution of edible plants in polluted soil.

Andy Freeman will introduce a range of techniques for making and sharing maps using simple digital methods. The workshop includes a walking tour of Two Tree Island where participants will learn how to collect geo-tagged images and data using either their mobile phone or equipment supplied on the day. Data we hope to collect and map on the day includes:

  • aerial photography using a drone and/or kite (weather dependent)
  • geo-tagged photos
  • air quality
  • sampling water for pollutants
  • ambient sounds
  • ambient electromagnetism
  • background radiation
  • the blueness of the sky (using a cyanometer)

Participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online open maps produced on the day or produce their own map. The workshop runs from 10am-4pm and includes light refreshments. Participants are welcome to bring their own laptops, tablets and cameras to build their own maps as wi-fi will be available, but this is not a requirement of participation.

Protective clothing and equipment

To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing, walking shoes and rainwear. You can also bring smartphones, laptops, tablets and cameras as wi-fi will be available for the indoor parts, but this is not a requirement for participation in the workshop.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Supported by

Dave Black from BlackWing Services http://blackwingservices.com/

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Mud Larks among the Eel grass

The first of three workshops presented as Fruits of the Thames, part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary with YoHa.

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Using geo-locating devices such as smartphones, geo-tagging photo-cameras and GPS devices we will assist amateur biologist and gardener Paul Huxster studying Eelgrass and Cordgrass spatial fluctuations across Leigh’s tidelands. Local micro and macro biodiversity depends of these two plant species.

In the 19th century various Cordgrass species were introduced to the tidelands of Two Tree Island, as a low-end land reclamation experiment to expand Old Leigh's public land for grazing sheep. It proved a resounding failure for the positivist minds of land speculation. Today Cordgrass is an attractive nutrient for invasive grazers as they migrate toward the Estuary’s warming waters. And both Cordgrass and grazing animals are steadily establishing in the area. However, siltation processes are also altering the local environment, and as sea temperature rises, Eelgrass species are being pushed from Essex shorelines northwards, affecting in turn many other the breeding, feeding and migration of other species.

Images will be compiled using the hashtag: #mudwalkingleight. An interactive map and extensive documentation will be produced to help Paul Huxster to track this complex yet contentious process in which science oughtn’t have the only say. We want to reflect upon what constitutes native or non-native ecology and what defines novel versus historical ecosystems in an age in which human activity constitutes the main force driving ecosystems’ change. And, above all, contemplate the cultural systems we use to value them.

The tide on the day will be early, so we need to start walking by 9am. Participants should bear on mind that the event is demanding physically; appropriate gear (listed below) is essential, especially tight wellies and a strong stick for walking. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to walk the mud, then after little rest and light refreshment, participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online maps produced on the day or produce their own map. 

Protective clothing and equipment

To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting wellies and strong walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary). Smartphones or GPS devices are welcome but please bring a plastic bag to keep the dry.

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Event

Fruits of the Thames

As part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary we are holding three workshops in Leigh-on-Sea to digest and map the Fruits of the Thames.

 

Because of the delicate ecosystems, each workshop is limited to 15-20 participants, please book using the booking links below.  The workshops are free, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

These workshops lead on from the workshop Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames held in July 2014 at Leigh-on-Sea's Maritime Festival.

Catastrophe can afford a certain optimism. Many would say the worst has already happened to Two Tree Island, Leigh-on-Sea, situated on the north bank of the Thames Estuary. From 1936 to the mid-1980s the site was used as landfill and a sewage works, leaking PCBs, DDT and other nasties into the salt marsh. Southend-on-Sea and Castle Point local authorities have little data about what lurks beneath the uneven rubble, plastic bags of dog poop, half-empty 1950s Brasso tins, chip wrappers and the ruins of long-forgotten Southend-on-Sea property booms. In 2004, the Island’s chemical cocktail leached into the genomes of surrounding shellfish percolating to public attention in Parliamentary questions.

In recent years Essex Wildlife Trust and a host of local volunteers have transformed the Island into a haven, allowing wild Essex to perch on top of its abandoned urban filth. Today beautiful — and sometimes exotic — wild apples are tempting to eat, blackberries flourish and cry out to be jammed; fennel, shellfish and sea aster spring from once-contaminated soil. Two Tree Island is not too different from anywhere else in the UK, where the worst of poisonous substances and their potential hide beneath the surface.

Workshop Details 

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Sat 13 September, 8.30am - 1pm
Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea railway station, Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2ET
Dropping point: Old Leigh

Using geo-locating devices such as smartphones, geo-tagging photo-cameras and GPS devices we will assist amateur biologist and gardener Paul Huxster studying Eelgrass and Cordgrass spatial fluctuations across Leigh’s tidelands. Local micro and macro biodiversity depends of these two plant species.

In the 19th century various Cordgrass species were introduced to the tidelands of Two Tree Island, as a low-end land reclamation experiment to expand Old Leigh's public land for grazing sheep. It proved a resounding failure for the positivist minds of land speculation. Today Cordgrass is an attractive nutrient for invasive grazers as they migrate toward the Estuary’s warming waters. And both Cordgrass and grazing animals are steadily establishing in the area. However, siltation processes are also altering the local environment, and as sea temperature rises, Eelgrass species are being pushed from Essex shorelines northwards, affecting in turn many other the breeding, feeding and migration of other species.

Images will be compiled using the hashtag: #mudwalkingleight. An interactive map and extensive documentation will be produced to help Paul Huxster to track this complex yet contentious process in which science oughtn’t have the only say. We want to reflect upon what constitutes native or non-native ecology and what defines novel versus historical ecosystems in an age in which human activity constitutes the main force driving ecosystems’ change. And, above all, contemplate the cultural systems we use to value them.

The tide on the day will be early, so we need to start walking by 9am. Participants should bear on mind that the event is demanding physically; appropriate gear (listed below) is essential, especially tight wellies and a strong stick for walking. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to walk the mud, then after little rest and light refreshment, participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online maps produced on the day or produce their own map. 

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting wellies and strong walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary). Smartphones or GPS devices are welcome but please bring a plastic bag to keep the dry.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

Sun 14 September 10am - 4pm
Meeting point: The Fisherman’s Chapel, New Road Methodist Church, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EA (5 minutes walk from Leigh-on-Sea railway station)

With GPS enabled camera phones and free online tools its now easier than ever to make useful, fun and beautiful maps that can show anything from your holiday snaps to the distribution of edible plants in polluted soil.

Andy Freeman will introduce a range of techniques for making and sharing maps using simple digital methods. The workshop includes a walking tour of Two Tree Island where participants will learn how to collect geo-tagged images and data using either their mobile phone or equipment supplied on the day. Data we hope to collect and map on the day includes:

  • aerial photography using a drone and/or kite (weather dependent)
  • geo-tagged photos
  • air quality
  • sampling water for pollutants
  • ambient sounds
  • ambient electromagnetism
  • background radiation
  • the blueness of the sky (using a cyanometer)

Participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online open maps produced on the day or produce their own map. The workshop runs from 10am-4pm and includes light refreshments. Participants are welcome to bring their own laptops, tablets and cameras to build their own maps as wi-fi will be available, but this is not a requirement of participation.

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing, walking shoes and rainwear. You can also bring smartphones, laptops, tablets and cameras as wi-fi will be available for the indoor parts, but this is not a requirement for participation in the workshop.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Supported by Dave Black from BlackWing Services http://blackwingservices.com/

Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa

(Joint workshop with Digital Housing Hub project in association with South Essex Homes)

Sat 20 September 10am - 4pm
Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea railway station, Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2E
Dropping point: The Fisherman’s Chapel, New Road Methodist Church, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EA

YoHa will guide you through the potential hazards of eating wild herbs, plants and fruits of the former landfill site of Two Tree Island. We will meet you at the Leigh-on-Sea station and go for walk and collect edible plants along the way. After the walk we will move to Fisherman’s Chapel in Leigh where we will make some lunch out of what we harvest in the morning and taste them.

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear and walking shoes. Bring a small sharp knife or secateurs & a plastic container for harvesting edibles.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Links

Mud walking June 2014 http://vimeo.com/101228535

Interview at the workshop "Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames" on Leigh maritime festival July 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5DJPqsImvs

YoHa website about this project http://yoha.co.uk/wrecked

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