Drawing on Water

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.

Drawing on Water


Notes

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.

Mapping Vulnerability – Finding a Visual Voice

“The installations highlight our preoccupation with physical boundaries but also consider thresholds of thought and the necessity for a shared sense of purpose.”

Six artworks from multi-media artist Jacqui Jones utilise maps to provide a visual voice and fire the imagination on the fragile equilbrium of our social and ecological systems and themes of sustainability and regeneration. 

I was searching for a medium that would expand the vision of environmental, humanitarian and climate concerns at both a local and world wide level, something relatable that would show the vulnerability of the world and its inhabitants. Maps provided that visual voice, articulating not only the here and now but a wish for a longer future.

Jacqui Jones is a multi-media artist immersed in current social, political and scientific thinking, whose work encourages thought, conversation and action, focusing on the climate crisis and single-use plastics.

 

How do we open up hearts and minds to complex environmental issues? The enormity of the challenges can seem so difficult to analyse and understand. Contemporary art is one of the avenues that can fire the imagination and renew the conversation, illustrating ideas, impacts and implications.

For over 10 years I have produced artwork that prompts discussions about the world’s fragile equilibrium, broadening perspectives and horizons. Working conceptually using sustainable and repurposed materials I create works in many mediums including film, sculpture, installation and photography.

In June 2022 I exhibited a series of six works utilising maps. The artworks were the result of two years of research and experimentation not only with the materials but also working over time with the unique features of the redundant factory in which they were to be set.

I was searching for a medium that would expand the vision of environmental, humanitarian and climate concerns at both a local and worldwide level, something relatable that would show the vulnerability of the world and its inhabitants. Maps provided that visual voice, articulating not only the here and now but a wish for a longer future.

The final works expanded on themes of sustainability and regeneration. Considering subjects such as water ecology (Reconnection), urban construction (Urban Sprawl), deforestation (Forest), re-wilding (Valuing the Wild), rising sea levels (Tipping Point) and areas of conflict (War-torn).

The installations, shown below (click on each image for the full-size view), are imbued with a melancholic beauty and a compelling desolation. Each is inextricably linked with architecture and atmosphere of the building. They highlight our preoccupation with physical boundaries but also consider thresholds of thought and the necessity for a shared sense of purpose.


Jacqui’s six artworks were exhibited as part of Resonance, June 2nd – 12th 2022, at the Old Shoe Factory, St Mary’s Works, Norwich, England. You can explore more of Jacqui’s work at her website.