A total of 30 proposals were submitted. They were scrutinised against a scoring criteria aligned with the aims of the Cymerau/Hydrocitizens project. There were also a number of practical requirements overall, such as: fit within budget, diversity of creative work across disciplines, engaging diverse communities, types of water, bilingual practice and achievability. A shortlist of ten people was selected, and these individuals or teams were then interviewed to discuss the possible development of their project, and to look more closely at budgets and methodology. As a result, these finalised ten artists have been offered commissions to work with Cymerau over one year, from Autumn 2015 to Summer 2016, with different projects taking place in each season. At the end of each season there will be an event to share and discuss the work produced.
During the first season, Autumn 2015, multi-media artist Esther Tew, who works with sound and light installations, will lead a collective of Borth artists to create Water, Water Everywhere. The idea is to create an outdoor corridor gallery along the high street in Borth, by projecting footage which explores the effects of sea-level rise on communities across the world. The project will involve local residents, including the people who live in the houses on the street and those who have been involved with the Borth flood defence schemes.
"We want to draw parallels between flooding and climate migration here in the UK and globally, creating lots of difficult but necessary conversations about the different scales of the disaster, the cause, the implications, etc. These are transferable as they relate to other towns in similar situations as flooding worsens across the UK and the world".
The other participants include: Tom Gunn (fine art photographer), Alex Randall (Climate Outreach Information Network), Helen Kennedy, Anne Ferris, and Bodge (all community arts practitioners),
Helen Kennedy leads another Borth based collective, who have skills which include carpentry, sculpture-making, organic gardening, permaculture, photography and song-writing. They will construct The Water Shed, an activity hub at Borth Community Gardens, made from low impact and sustainably sourced materials such as reclaimed wood and washing machine glass doors as windows. The roof will be designed in such a way to collect rainwater in a series of storage containers for use in the gardens. This activity will kick-start a number of workshops in the Garden Community, which will explore water-based issues in creative and fun ways.
Nick Jones, Anne Marie Carty and Dafydd Sills-Jones will work with the local community to produce a film and soundscape, Y Gors, about Cors Fochno, the internationally important raised bog that occupies the middle of the case study area and which is central to the drainage from surrounding water systems.
"The villages around Cors Fochno occupy an intriguing position within this system, and its inhabitants are part of the system...We will make a film with the community that draws together many layers of individual experience, with Cors Fochno as its focus".
Nick Jones is a locally-based composer, and the film’s complex soundscape will involve the Borth community choir Côr y Gors, for whom he is composer in residence. Anne Marie Carty is a fimmaker who specialises in working with communities. Dafydd Sills-Jones is a filmmaker and lecturer at Aberystwyth University.
A project that will take take place through the medium of Welsh is Penillion y Leri (Leri Verse) . Gwilym Morus Baird, poet, musician and folklorist, will establish and work with a group of people living in or around the village of Tal-y-bont. He will mentor them over several months to produce verse that will reflect the landscape of the nearby River Leri and themes associated with water in the area.
"The aim of this project is to inspire residents of the Tal-y-bont area to compose Welsh verses about the Leri River. The project will result in setting a selection of these verses to music, recording and performing them, and presenting them alongside a booklet of the verses".
During winter/spring Jo Munton, an experienced puppeteer and choreographer of interactive youth theatre, will work with colleague Owen Glynne Davies at the schools at Tal-y-bont and Borth to produce Hydroscope.
"We would like to facilitate collective creative explorations into water with the primary schools (key stage 2) in Borth and Tal-y-bont. The aim would be to explore the issues, attitudes, facts and stories surrounding water using a range of techniques and art forms (shadow puppetry, rod puppetry, poetry, dance, "haka", sand painting and animation) - the end result would be a show. We would achieve this bilingually".
Kate Doubleday, musician and community environmentalist, will initially be funded to explore the feasibility of the Water Pipe Project, which would create a piece of environmental art/wild play structure around the unsightly water pipe outlet on Borth beach. The actual project would involve a group of young people, who would producing a design for the pipe sculpture and work through the process of obtaining permission.
"I will encourage the young people in the Borth community to become more aware of water in their own lives, their local environment, and explore the link between the rivers and the sea. The water pipe represents a symbol of this link, a creative learning tool for exploring and understanding where the water comes from, what the long term impact of that water has on our lives in Borth, and what wildlife habitats exist around it."
In Spring 2016 Jane Lloyd Francis and Jess Allen will interact through their related projects; Jane will walk the length of the River Leri whereas Jess will follow the route of the water pipe line from the treatment works at Bontgoch to the outlet at Borth.
Jane describes: "My proposal (Ar Lan y Leri) will create a water pilgrimage from the source of the Leri, at Craig y Pistyll, along the length of the river to Borth, where the Leri converges with the sea. The journey will be designed to investigate relationships and to stimulate conversations and creativity. The river will be our inspiration as we meet and engage with individuals and communities along the rivers bank.”
The singer-songwriter Gwilym Morus Baird will collaborate with Jane to capture and perform the experiences of this river pilgrimage.
Jess Allen describes Water Treatment Walk as a rural, relational walking performance to collect perceptions, memories and stories about where our potable water comes from and how we ‘treat’ it, both chemically (to make it safe and ‘useful’) and culturally (with disregard or respect).
Boz Groden will be commissioned to make Water Map, an activity that will continue through the year. As a result of conversations with people who have a variety of interests and concerns with water in the Borth/Cors Fochno part of the study area, Boz will create a 'hard copy' map by drawing humorous illustrations that will record the places and issues discussed. His work will also have an interactive element by involving online exchange of ideas and images.
"It deals with source and use of water and wider community engagement with its value, threat and future use to ourselves and others. A visual record of community 'psychogeography' of water in the area".
As well as the commissioned projects Cymerau has already started to establish a background to the year-long project and to begin to engage with people in a variety of ways. A number of creative practitioners have been given earlier short commissions to initiate these year-long artistic activities. Storyteller Peter Stevenson, has already made a story-film about Borth and is working with Natural Resources Wales to offer story-walks around the mysterious and magical Cors Fochno reserve. Jude Macklin, collaborating with poets and educators Eurig Salisbury and Gwilym Morus Baird, has worked with the two primary schools to explore river and shore edges through graphic imagery and words. She also incorporated her husband Mark Macklin into her work in the schools (Professor of Physical Geography and Director of the Centre for Catchment and Coastal Research). Jo Munton will carry out an introductory school workshop to introduce themes that might be used in her later work. Ffion Jones is gradually building on her existing relationship with the farming community around Tal-y-bont to produce film, photography and installation that will explore capture their relationship with water.
Artists led by Jenny Hall are building a Sea Urchin, a floating structure that engages people with water movement, tides and observation of the sea. The Urchin will be the centre-piece of the Cymerau launch event at Borth on June 20th.
Cymerau is part of a UK-wide academic study, 'Hydrocitzenship' (2014-17), which combines academic research with community participation and creative activities. Locally, Cymerau is a partnership between Aberystwyth and Bangor University and community partners Creu-ad and ecodyfi. We are being advised by experts in hydrology, climate change and participatory arts. We are also talking to policy-makers and organisations working on the ground.
This project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the Connected Communities programme. This programme aims to build powerful collaborations between researchers and communities to generate distinctive research insights on the changing role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life and to produce legacies of value for both future research and for communities. The programme is led by the AHRC in partnership with other Research Councils and a range of other organisations.
To mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected communities to enhance self-reliance, prosperity, sustainability, health & well-being by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities.