Water Water Everywhere (August-October 2015) was a project led by multimedia artist Esther Tew in collaboration with a collective of Borth artists who share concerns about sea level rise and climate migration. Their intention was to draw parallels between flood issues facing the coastal village Borth and those facing distant nations – in particular low-lying Pacific island republic Kiribati – through three different participatory arts events.
The first (26 August) was a workshop in the intertidal zone itself, with beach-goers invited to construct a model of Borth town out of sand and found objects. Poignantly, the incoming tide then slowly washed this ‘sandcastle’ town back into the sea.
“We decided to recreate Borth in sand. If there are too many facts and figures, people glaze over” – Anne Ferris, Cambrian News, August 2015.
The second event (10 October) was a night-time outdoor film-screening in which films – including footage of local sea customs, interviews with residents, interspersed with documentary film from Kiribati by Sara Penrhyn Jones – were projected onto the houses of Princess Street in the centre of the village. Afterwards, the Friendship Inn hosted a ‘conversation collection’ evening:
“We put out a large sheet of paper to encourage more visual discussions. The beachfront houses were drawn and filled with water, then upside-down houses were drawn on top of them with people fishing out of the windows and growing trees on the tops. We had a great variety of ages in this session and merpeople featured prominently [in the narratives] from young to old” – Esther.
Finally, the third event (11 October) took place in the Tir a Môr cafe gallery and, again, provided drawing materials as a focus for activity, while gentle prompts were issued in the form of questions about sea defences, community spirit, possible relocation in a climate-changed future:
“I don’t know where I'd move to
When my house is being flooded I’ll be trying to get into the pub
We’ll just go upstairs
We wont have a bus anymore; we’ll have to paddle board to work” – selected participant reflections.
Cumulatively, these creative methods successfully sparked, in Esther’s words, “difficult but necessary conversations” about Borth, flooding and the future. What emerges is of a vibrant community – “aflame with creativity, awash with stones” – finding strength even in the awareness of its vulnerability as a precarious coastal settlement on a shingle bank.
“A real, beautiful, creative and stimulating documentation of a fragile, quirky community who obviously love being where they are” – Lucy Morus-Baird
ARTWORK(S) & DOCUMENTATION
Esther reflected on each event in a series of blogs, published in full on her website (scroll down to the section Water Water Everywhere).
Borth beach event film
Interviews with visitors and locals on Borth Beach
Interview with local resident Mikey
Interview with local residents Mike and Sarah
Sea shanties at Borth folk session/timelapse of the conversation collection event
A selection of images is below. Image credits: Tom Gunn (images 15-22), Sara Penrhyn Jones (images 22-24).
ENGAGEMENT & PARTICIPATION
There were around 35 participants in the beach workshop, around 150 people came to watch the outdoor films and approximately 20 people engaged in the conversation collection events.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Esther Tew is a multimedia artist and artists technician who works with sound and light installations and site specific reactive sculptures driven by sound, light, water, wind, people, fruit, etc. Her background includes working on large-scale evening walkabout events like Sounding the River and For the Birds. She has also worked with climate change researchers to create and deliver play based workshops to communicate the findings to wider audiences in an immersive and self-directed environment. She has desired to collaborate with Borth based artists since meeting the community through discovering the events in the Friendship Inn and joining the choir. esthertew.com