Published: ‘Riding the Tide: Socially-engaged art and resilience in an uncertain future’

governing for resilienceWe are happy to announce the publication of Governing for Resilience in Vulnerable Places in which you can find “Riding the Tide: Socially-engaged art and resilience in an uncertain future” a paper writen in collaboration between Sage Brice and Seila Fernández Arconada.

“Governing for Resilience in Vulnerable Places provides an overview and a critical analysis of the ways in which the concept ‘resilience’ has been addressed in social sciences research. In doing so, this edited book draws together state-of-the-art research from a variety of disciplines (i.e. spatial planning, economic and cultural geography, environmental and political sciences, sociology and architecture) as well as cases and examples across different spatial and geographical contexts (e.g. urban slums in India; flood-prone communities in the UK; coastal Japan). The cases present and explore challenges and potentials of resilience-thinking for practitioners and academics. As such, Governing for Resilience in Vulnerable Places aims to provide a scientifically robust overview and to generate some conceptual clarity for researchers, students and practitioners interested in the potential of resilience thinking as well as the application of resilience in practice”.

For more information about the book please check the following link:  https://www.routledge.com/Governing-for-Resilience-in-Vulnerable-Places/Trell-Restemeyer-Bakema-van-Hoven/p/book/9781138216495

 

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A Sea Captain’s Tales

We are pleased to share in our blog a story from Captain Peter Hull who kindly came to visit the making of the boat, telling us stories and supporting us in the process: thank you.

“INDONESIAN BUGIS” by Capt Peter Hull

I am a Master Mariner by profession and formerShipmaster. In 1984 the Shipping Company for which I worked posted me to Indonesia to act as Operations Manager in South East Asia.Indonesia is a busy, diverse and fascinating country. It is the largest archipelago in the world with over 17,000 islands. It is also one of the most populated. Hence boats have always formed an essential part of life in Indonesia, enabling people to travel and trade between the islands.What I normally referred to asBugis are part of a group of sailing vessels often called Makassar Schooners orPhinisi (sometimesPinisi). They are probably the last such fleets of sailing boats in the world that still ply for trade. They carry a wide variety of goods such as timber, copra, rice and raw materials to centres like Jakarta, and return to the various river ports throughout the archipelago with material such cement, steel and manufactured items. The main centre in Jakarta is known as SundaKelapa, which is the old sailing ship port nearTanjungPriok. It is well worth a visit.It is interesting to see the Bugis being loaded and discharged. Most of the cargo is carried as loose bags or single boards of timber and the stevedores walk up and down a narrow plank carrying a bag of cement, rice, or a couple of planks. The planks of timber are sometimes cut by hand in ‘saw pits’.

I had been to Indonesia before this and seen numerous Bugis at sea under full sail – an impressive and colourful sight. But my new posting gave me a chance to see one being built in Kota Baru (South Kalimantan). It was rather fortuitous to stumble on this vessel while I was supposed to be doing something else, but it gave me the opportunity to learn a bit about Bugi building. The most interesting thing is that they build the shell first and the frames second.

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Here is an extract from an article about them……

‘Pinisi have always been assembled using wooden pegs to join the timbers. We would call the fasteners “trunnels” or tree nails.

The sequence of assembly is different than we in the West would ordinarily assume. First the keel is laid, then the stem and stern post are erected, as usual. Then however, rather than setting up the whole array of the hull shell. The frames are pegged to the planks, to the keel, and to each other where the frame segments are joined. The frame butt ends either lap across the keel (Sulawesi style), or are joined to a floor member (more common in Kalimantan), depending on the tradition from which the individual boat builders have come.

This “planking first” approach may seem odd to our rigidly defined approach to shaping a ship in the West, but this is as the builders among the Indonesian islands have done it since no one knows when. This is very much the most common method used throughout Indonesian, Malaysian, and other South and Southeast Asian waters, and the method has served the people very well indeed’. 

(I think the ancient Greeks used to build trireme this way)

Suffice it to say that building a Bugi requires a lot of skill and experience. They are impressively large and built by hand using village labour without the help of power tools. (There are quite a lot of websites showing Pinisi building).

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All photos are courtesy of Captain Peter Hull.

Some more encounters on the Levels…

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Last week we made a lightning visit to Langport, where we held a small gathering for some of those interested in getting involved in the project (about which another post will follow!). The following day we met up with the Fidai ProFlo group – an exchange of social and physical scientists, planners and designers from the Netherlands, with artists, historians and local residents affected by floods in Somerset. Rhona Light kindly showed us around her partially-restored house, and shared an insight into the process of flooding and some of the ways this year had been different from the usual annual cycles of wet and dry.Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 13.58.07

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From there we went for lunch at the King Alfred, where Seila and I presented Some:when to the group and some members of the local FLAG group, and discussed possibilities for longer-term collaborations to continue the work Some:when has begun. After a lovely and lively meal we clambered up the steep sides of Burrow Mump to admire the view and listen to a brief presentation from Antony Lyons of NOVA, about his work on deep time perspectives on the Severn Estuary and Somerset Moors and Levels.

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Finally, we paid a quick visit to Anna’s incredible tythe barn, one of the sites for October’s conference. It was a swift goodbye as the Dutch contingent had a train to catch, but we had some really interesting discussions and are really looking forward to resuming the conversation at the conference on the 7th: http://www.aqua-deltamarnix.com/index-uk%20event.html

Somerset Heritage Office, research times.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day in research at the Somerset Heritage Office in Taunton. Traces of the Flatner are everywhere in the history of the Somerset Levels and Moors and a number of books that I found there were fascinating. Flooding is obviously a complex issue in Somerset, however, the more I know about it the more I feel passionate about this project. It is interesting to note the special relationship of Somerset with water by revisiting history, the culture, the traditions, the landscape – all are based on this particular connection. I have found a number of impressive images of the area around Langport and how this community is well knowledgeable about this.

I would like to thank the staff at the Somerset Heritage Office for being such a helpful and passionate team, for helping out with ideas facilitating ways to find information within their archives.

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Langport

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“… and I saw a boat appear”

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

(from the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”)

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boat museum 1

Following the trail of the Somerset Flatner, we discovered a set of plans to build it had been drawn up by enthusiasts at the Watchet Boat Museum. That was  how we ended up in Watchet, looking for the plans, and hoping also to see the real boat. After an interesting journey, getting to know a few more people along the way, we arrived in Watchet – possible birthplace of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. An interesting small town on the coast which that day was blessed with remarkable and irrational weather…

2:00 pm: the museum opens… and we get to enter this fantastic space packed with floating inspiration, independently created and curated by a passionate and inventive local group, Friends of the Flatner. Bruce, a founding member, kindly met us at the museum and we had our first tantalising glimpse into the world of knowledge the group have accumulated over the years. We begun to realise just how complex the project is – the boat we want to build, the “Flatner” is a whole spectrum of plan variations depending on their functionality, context and owner. A couple of hours’ explanation opened windows and even doors, to look at the making of this fascinating project. Finally able to explore its history in depth, and being able to touch and handle the actual boats, we started to see the boat take shape in our minds’ eyes.

 

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Thank you so much to Bruce, on behalf of the Watchet Boat Museum and The Friends of the Flatner. So much passion in one little shed – so much knowledge to learn from!

 

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Pal·imp·sest

Last week at the LitterARTi exhibition in Bristol Jethro ran a workshop for children with designer-maker Fiona Hobson – creating laminated collages with children, from waste plastic bags and sweet wrappers (Seila was running a willow sculpture workshop with the artist Sarah Edwards outside)

It was a great chance to experiment with techniques we also hope to use for the some:when sail/banner. It was great to see how tough the laminate is and to get a sense for the properties of the materials, colours and textures – which were far too much for my phone’s camera to handle:

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This was actually our second attempt – our first was an impromptu living-room experiment with Claire and her incredible collection of creative scrap, at Bow Wharf in Langport. There are few relevant artists to consider if we talk about working with lamination and layering. Anselm Kiefer is one of them, one of the main artists working with the palimpsest technique to generate his work.

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Anselm Kiefer

pal·imp·sest (plmp-sstn. 

1. A manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible.

2. An object, place, or area that reflects its history.
Henrique Oliveira

Henrique Oliveira

And the incredible Museo Aero Solar, a hot air balloon made from laminated waste plastic bags:

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Museo Aero Solar

A welly of water will do

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We were sitting in the library when the phone rang, books stacked about our feet and on the little side table. We had divided the morning between phone calls and local history books, on the trail of the elusive Parrett Flatner. So far we had three interesting photographs, and one promising conversation. Now on the phone was Ron Coombes of Bineham City Farm, kindly inviting us out for a look at his hand-built punt, recreated from the original specifications of Colonel Hawker

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Cycling as fast as we could in the baking sun, we made it out to the farm just in time to catch Ron on his lunch break. He took us out to the barn to admire the boat, a long, low craft built constructed from light timber and marine ply, painted a wintry pale grey. Holding his hand to the side of his Wellington boot to show just how little water was needed to float the boat, he described the extent of the Winter floods and the trips he’d taken wild-fowling with his dogs when the Levels were submerged.

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Standing by the boat with the sun at our backs and the cool musty smell of the barn before, our quest at last began to take on material qualities – the feel of the marine plywood, the weathered texture of the flaking paint, smells of straw and wood, oil, rust and dung. The swallows among the rafters and the wet nose of the dog gently sniffing about our ankles. This wasn’t exactly the boat we were after, but its flat bottom and homegrown feel gave us a taste of what we were after. Ron said the boat has carried them for miles across the floodplain, needing very little to keep afloat. Running aground on the mud, it takes only a quick shove to get going again. It seems an ideal boat for access and mobility in an unstable and unpredictable water-scape.

At the back of the house, another boat lay upturned on the narrow lawn, a battered fibreglass dinghy propped beside the rusting garden gate. Ron marked out the line for us, where the water had reached halfway up the  drive. The house, the yard and the cattle sheds were safe on high ground, but a boat was still a handy thing to have about.

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Cycling back, we stopped besides golden fields of sunbaked corn beneath an innocent blue sky. The smell of warm earth, tarmac and milky thistles revealed nothing to our of the wet, waterbound Winter months.

On the trail of the Somerset Flatner

The following text is reproduced from a forthcoming notice in the next edition of the Langport Leveller with thanks to Janet Seaton.

Artists Seila Fernandez Arconada and Jethro Brice are working on a project with community groups in the Langport area, to recreate this iconic local boat – a flat-bottomed craft valued for its stability in a changeable landscape. Please get in touch if you have information, stories or pictures relating to the traditional Somerset Flatner and its smaller cousins, the Turf boat, Withy boat and Flattie. We are interested in collecting local memories to flesh out what we know from museums and archives – and perhaps even finding an original boat in somebody’s barn!

For more information about the project please visit http://www.some-when.co.uk.
Contact us on somewhenproject@gmail.com

Mannering, J (2008), The directory of inshore craft: Traditional working vessels of the British Isles, Barnsley, Seaforth Publishing, [distributor] Pen & Sword Books Ltd

Mannering, J (2008), The directory of inshore craft: Traditional working vessels of the British Isles, Barnsley, Seaforth Publishing, Pen & Sword Books Ltd

Encounters in Langport – how spontaneity generates collaboration

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We’ve opted for an open and spontaneous approach with this project – floating an idea and seeing where it takes us, following the threads that arise from collective responses. The research trip was directed by the people we met, pointing the way to new encounters with particular places or people. Their interest in the project has in turn shaped our own, bringing different approaches and expertise to flesh out our original ideas.

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We met some great people, whose enthusiasm and knowledge have helped us explore or resolve some of the big questions that face us. We were able to look at construction of the actual boat, floating different suggestions and even testing out some possible materials in an impromptu living-room experiment. We explored the historical and social background, talking to people about their experiences, consulting local books and historians. We began to immerse ourselves in the space, exploring Langport and its surroundings, sought out community groups in order to know how they would like to engage with the project , and even took a canoe out onto the River Parrett, to explore what will be the final event of this project, the Flatner‘s journey downstream from Langport to Bridgewater.

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The journey Some:when has started is vibrant and beautiful. Thank you so much to everyone who has made it a success so far – thanks to Carol, Steph, Josh, Lorraine, Ron, Cara, Hannah, Claire, Alan, Angus, Janet, Caroline, and everybody else who made us feel welcome and inspired.  More updates to follow soon!