Tag Archives: flood attenuation

The River’s Breathing, Avon Meadows

11 Mar

My project work for Meadow Arts at Avon Meadows, Pershore is nearing its conclusion. It has taken place almost entirely during the restrictions of the Covid lockdown, which, for a site-based community project, has been a strange challenge. Thankfully, I was able to make a couple of visits to the site to gather materials I needed, speak to a few of the people visiting Avon Meadows and conduct some research. The community workshops will take place online on Meadow Arts’ Instagram Live TV channel, and via Zoom on Saturday 13th March and 20th March respectively. Its been good to make some contact online with people who live locally to the site via the Friends of Avon Meadows. Hopefully, I will make visits in the not too distant future to put my work on display in a local venue.

My artwork is titled the River’s Breathing.

The River’s Breathing, 150cm x 75cm, 3 panel mixed media relief, botanical-dyed paper handmade with reeds and silver birch

It relates to the theme of flooding and the meadow’s role in natural flood attenuation or “breathing space” of the river, alleviating peak flows downstream.   During the pandemic, the Avon Meadows have played a really valuable role as a breathing space for people to get some exercise, some fresh air and enjoy being in nature.

The use of a variety of plant materials in the work touches on biodiversity which is boosted by the seasonal flooding and distribution of nutrients.  I’m interested in the fact that the meadows have an interdependent relationship with humans so that they are both beautiful and useful.

As described in my earlier posts, there were quite a few different processes needed.  After collecting plants, berries, soil and other materials from Avon Meadow, I used reeds and silver birch to make paper.  Then I made dyes and pigments to dye the paper a range of different colours.

I constructed the paper into three panels with just a little support from strips of card.  I like that plant materials and recycled scrap paper can be used to make something that is quite strong and structural – it is 3D and highly textured.

The design is based on two hydrographs – which shows how water level rises with time during a flood.  The graph or curve with the high peak represents the flow for a river which is unable to escape its channel.  The lower flatter curve represents what happens if the flood is allowed to spread out onto the flood plain.  This lowers the flood depth and also delays the peak so that the impact downstream may be lessened.  So the risk of flooding to properties is reduced. 

Sometimes, I think when I produce an artwork that its creation was beyond my own control.  As if there already exists an infinity of artworks, and what the artist does, by a series of decisions is to filter down the choices until a unique piece of art remains.  Almost as if the work is not mine, but something more communal, that was destined to come into being at some point.  It feels like that with this piece – all the themes, the materials, the process, the place – all seemed to just fall into alignment.

Its been a privilege to have this opportunity from Meadow Arts to come to Avon Meadows and share this artwork.

Now I’m passing the baton on to artists Melanie Woodhead, Kate Raggett and Emma Plover, and I’m excited to see what they make from the site during the Spring and Summer!