A restless interlude

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Some may have been wondering how the Some:when flatner has been doing over this long and changeable summer. While long-term plans for a river trip have been simmering slowly on a back burner (and there are some exciting developments in that area), the boat itself hasn’t been content to wait in silence. After a long stay  at the exhibition Imagined Landscapes at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, the flatner travelled back to Langport for a while, where its thirsty timbers were greeted with their first taste of rain for a very long time.

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From there, the flatner pressed on south to participate in the exhibition Weather Station II – coordinated by OSR projects as part of Portland’s prestigious B-side Festival. Weather Station is an “artist-led response to flooding,  extreme weather and the changing relationship we have with landscape and the natural world” – involving the cumulative contributions of a selection of artists working across South West England.

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Ideas for staging the hoped-for tidal journey on the Parrett are still afoot – and we are finding new ways to embed it within the wider locally-led project to re-connect Langport with the River Parrett. The logistical challenges of a tidal journey on this river were greater than we ever imagined – but we are confident that everything will eventually come together!

In the meantime, watch out also the Duchess of Cocklemoor – another inspiring boat-centred project to re-enliven the Parrett as a space of culture, leisure and transport…

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Carribbean Fishermen’s Tale

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Having travelled the Caribbean Coast for a while I have a number of stories to tell, however, there is one that comes to mind and makes me think of the traditional Flatner over and over again….

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Taganga is a little village nearby Santa Marta in the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is a tiny place where tourists come to enjoy crystal clear sea water, unique sunsets in the beach, fish and sea food by the coast, excellent views of the Caribbean sea… however, staying in the place longer than a couple of days I started to realise that the community hasn’t yet lost its essence as many other places do when tourism becomes the driver of their local economy. Before tourism arrived within the last decade the sea was their only livelihood as the land that surrounds them is unsuitable for farming, there is no fresh water supply and very little rainfall.

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It was interesting to share a day with a group of fishermen, the technique they use is net fishing and that is based on “waiting”. Everything is quiet , the group of fishermen chat, play cards in the shade while one of them is in the sea snorkeling to see if shoal of fish are gathering in the catchment area of the net. When the snorkeler gives the signal the moment arrives for all hands on deck. Everyone runs to positions and wrap the net’s ropes and pull, pull strongly to take the shoal of fish. They need as many hands as possible and some other fishermen nearby come to help too. They keep on pulling until they realise there are no fish. Time to place the net again. For that they use a canoe, a hand made canoe carved from one tree trunk. They have been using this type of boats for many many years and still they use them. They are heavy, low sitting canoes with an almost flat bottom. Especially beautiful on the beach beside the modern fiberglass engine boats surrounding them. In these types of boats you can see how time passes, and how much these fishermen are connected to the sea being quite respectful with it.

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After waiting and waiting again the diver shouts again, and finally they got a great number of fish, a whole shoal of “cojinovas”. Time to leave today, it is 5:30 pm and the sun will set soon but there is still a final stop for them to be part of, back in the main beach in Taganga all of the fishermen groups come together to weigh the different catches, then is time to get a proportional amount of fish for each of the participant fishermen, the rest will go for either direct sale there, where the community is waiting for getting the best pieces for cheaper and the markets around. Still in Taganga fishing is the sole means of making money of many families and it was nice to see that the men fishing were a mixture of generations. They are just an organised number of groups fishing and still the familiar and community sense is still there.

Tourism is quickly becoming the main driver of their economy but it will never have the resilience that the fishermen have because of tourism’s heavy dependency on fresh water which daily is transported in trucks. The whole village needs this water and the people who live there have an awareness of the scarcity of fresh water that the tourists passing through generally don´t have hence posters all over the villages hostels and hotels which say “Taganga no tiene agua, cuidala” (Taganga has no water, look after it).

 

Seila Fernández Arconada

Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) 18th of July 2015.

[Re-posted by Jethro Brice 19th July, with minor edits]

First dip!

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Photo: Simon Lee Dicker

It was an incredible feeling – that moment when the flatner first touched the water, and the dead weight we’d been manhandling down the slippery banks suddenly came alive in our hands and slipped up and out to float proudly at our feet. For all its solid wooden mass, the boat dances very lightly on the water.

The event was a lovely one – a flotilla of local craft travelled upriver to meet others from Thorney and even further afield, then circled back down as far as the old locks before landng back at Cocklemoor to celebrate with some of Burrow Hill’s finest local cider. After so many hours of toil, often in semi-darkness and near-freezing conditions, it was amazing to celebrate with such a bright, gorgeous day on the water, with a gathering of old and new friends and strangers there to celebrate the launch.

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OSR Project Weather Station booklet (B-Side Festival, Somerset)

That same weekend we took the flatner as part of the Weather Station project. After so long focusing mainly on working with other humans – and with the wood and materials of the boat itself – it was exciting to be working with new, nonhuman collaborators. The wind, the currents, the buoyancy of wood in water, all spoke to me through the dance of boat and ball and the tug at the oars in my hands.

This sense of the boat’s aliveness in the river environment was like a foretaste of the longer journey we have dreamed of, and still hope to realise – riding the incredible tides of the Parrett between Bridgwater and Langport.

[Post added 5 Dec 2017]

 

Some:when launch Sat 6th June, 2-4 pm

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And at long last… …the much anticipated launch of the Some:when flatner will be taking place this Saturday as part of the Langport Town Festival. We will launch the boat from the steps near Bow Bridge. If you are driving, please park at Ridgway or near the bridge to avoid interrupting the Spirit Levels dress rehearsal at the other end of Cocklemoor.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Under the Arches

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Traffic paused on Langport’s Bow Street for an unusual spectacle on Sunday 22nd March, as a Parrett Flatner made its way up the road for probably the first time since the high street flooded at the start of last century. This time the boat wasn’t floating. Instead it was carried in procession from the historic port at Bow Wharf, to the arches beneath Langport Town Hall, where it will be on temporary display.

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The procession went by land because access to the river isn’t possible, as the only slipway, by Black Bridge, is currently not in a useable condition. With the help of the Environment Agency, however, residents hope eventually to see the slipway back in operation, and access to the river made available again for all to enjoy. The boat will be formally launched as part of the Langport Festival in June, when summer water levels provide easier access to the river. Seila Fernandez Arconada and Jethro Brice – the artists leading the project – arranged the celebration to thank some of those who have been involved in the project so far, without whom the project could never have happened.

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Level best

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The waters were up as we passed over the bridge this morning, lapping the high banks along Cocklemoor and Bow Wharf. On Tuesday the lock gates were open at Oath; with the high tides coming and all the recent rain, we’ve been wondering how the water system is coping. There’s plenty of information to be found on the Flooding on the Levels Action Group Fb page, including an excellent diagram of how the overspill and storage system works to distribute and hold water for pumping off between tides.

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In the workshop we’ve been busy levelling out the base of the boat and mapping everything out, ready for gluing and cutting tomorrow… exciting times!

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A generous gift

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After a long, slow journey – late buses, hail storms, missed connections and all – it was lovely to have such a warm welcome back to Langport.

Some:when has been made possible by a great deal of creative and generous input and support from people locally, who’ve contributed in so many ways. It was good to be able to add to this list the support of Travis Perkins, who generously agreed to sponsor us with a donation of materials and equipment for the boat. We’d like to say a big thank you to the management of the Langport branch of Travis Perkins, who so kindly arranged the sponsorship, and helped make sure we had all we needed.

It’s exciting to have all the materials, tools and workshop set up and ready to go. Thanks to all who helped today, and on the project so far!

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Winter’s greetings!

A warm hello to all our friends and followers, this bright winter’s day. We are visiting friends and family (Jethro in Scotland, left; Seila in Spain, right) and recharging our batteries for the excitement of January.

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The exciting news is: we have found an excellent work space and will be starting work on THE BOAT in mid January – we are also looking forward to some more creative workshops while we are there.

We hope you are all having a nice toasty time with your loved ones, and enjoying the spectacular return of the sun.

Best wishes and looking forward to seeing you soon

Jethro and Seila

Dutch-UK knowledge exchange event on Tuesday 7th Oct

A special three-day event on the Parrett, Thames and Ouse, involving scientists, planners, artists and landscape designers from the Netherlands and UK together with local residents, to exchange knowledge around water management and flooding.

The first day is in Somerset, with an interesting and varied program including talks, presentations, field trips and art events,as well as a lovely meal and plenty of opportunity to chat and get to know each other.

Some:when artists Seila Fernandez Arconada and Jethro Brice will be presenting on the project, as well as other work by Jethro from the series Unruly Waters

Reduced tickets are available for local residents to allow them to attend alongside academic delegates. Click the link below for more information and to book a place.

http://www.aqua-deltamarnix.com/index-uk%20event-program.html