SYMPOSIUM: Walking in the City: Mapping Borders | Friday 13th September | 10am – 5pm | tickets £10 | The Parlour Showrooms, 31 College Green, BS1 5TB
Jethro Brice / FutureMuseum
Unruly Waters – a river in the fluid tense
The River Avon is both anchor and corridor, situating Bristol firmly in the landscape and linking urban to rural; present to past and future. Once tidal and unruly as far as Bath, the River has been extensively reworked over the years; its borderlines gradually fixed and encroached upon by stone and concrete, weirs and towpaths. A literal eye scanning the familiar place names encounters a wetter landscape – Canon’s Marsh, St Augustine’s Reach, Broad Mead, St Phillip’s Marsh. Beyond the closely managed confines of the city, extreme weather events reassert the Avon’s former expansiveness.
I am a Bristol-based artist engaged in a slow exploration of the River. An encounter in ‘the fluid tense’ – a technique which seeks to elicit the simultaneity of multiple temporalities in relation to place.
Currently I am focussing on the Navigation between Bristol and Bath, tracing echoes of the absent tide in the lives of the human and non-human riparian communities. On foot, bicycle and boat I enact a series of journeys as performance, using slow travel as a catalyst for conversations and encounters with people and place. At the outset of my journey, I am experimenting with different ways of articulating this practice beyond the context of the performed journeys, using drawing, writing, and possibly recorded sound to create a non-documentary travelogue which reflects and expands upon my findings.
The talk presents the River as a route in and out of familiar terrains, asking what can be learned from a reading of Bristol and its environs as fluid and impermanent, not a landscape but a waterscape, temporarily restrained. Sharing stories from the river and drawings executed ‘in the fluid tense’, the presentation will also ask how a long perspective on time and processes of change can free us from the tyranny of the present, informing and enriching our responses and relations to the landscape as a changeable place.