Artist James Aldridge gives a short video tour of his recent Drawing on Water exhibition. This brought together artworks that emerged out of the Queer River arts-based research project he set up in 2020, using an audiovisual installation and his ‘Walking Pages’ to look at his individual, embodied relationship with a range of local wetlands.
“What I have come to realise is that being Queer is not about being defined by others as Other, but refusing to be colonised or domesticated. It is about being yourself in spite of the restrictions you may face, a self that you discover through relationship with others. In this way I see it as closely related to (Re)wilding, whereby if the right conditions are put in place, the land begins to heal itself, bringing health to it and to us.’’ – James Aldridge, A Queer Path to Wellbeing (ClimateCultures, July 2020).
James Aldridge is a visual artist working with people and places, whose individual and participatory practices generate practice-led research into the value of artful, embodied and place-based learning.
Queer River uses walking, talking and making with rivers and their human and non-human communities, to research what a Queer perspective on rivers and other wetlands can offer us in this time of climate and biodiversity crisis.
Rather than seeking to capture Queer River in its entirety, Drawing on Water looked more closely at my own individual, embodied relationship with a range of wetlands with a particular focus on the Salisbury and Bristol Avons.
Drawing on Water gathered together artwork I made on walks, at home, or in the studio. Drawings included those I made using inks from plant materials that I gathered along the Salisbury Avon (e.g. Alder cones, Dock seeds and Elder berries). Others explored bodily health and pollution, or began to look at neurodivergent experiences of place.
For the audiovisual installation, I collaged together imagery from chalk streams and chalk downland, with footage recorded both above and below the water’s surface, whilst Walking Pages hanging from the gallery walls recorded my sensory experience of each place.
The Drawing on Water exhibition was held at the Pound Arts Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire, in the summer of 2023. You can see the short film James made about the exhibition above, and discover more at his Queer River project site and his artist’s website – as well as in the posts he has written for the ClimateCultures blog: A Queer Path to Wellbeing and Queer River and Engagements with Ecologies of Place.