Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences: LWC is to be developed as a singled authored artwork specifically for the outdoor environment of the London Wetland Centre (LWC) as part of Wetlands Unravelled, a yearlong contemporary art programme woven throughout the lakes, ponds and grasslands of one of the capital’s largest wild wetlands. Curated by Unravelled, who commission and produce site-specific projects inspired by history and place, the programme unfolds over three seasons with new sculptural, installation, video and textile works by ten artists exploring the paradoxes of conservation within the wetlands environment. Artists Tania Kovats, Anne Deeming, Jonathan Wright, Gavin Osborn and Alec Stevens launch Wetlands Unravelled in March 2020 at London Wetland Centre, followed by Lizzie Cannon in the summer in parallel to a programme of performances, talks and events, and myself, Sharon McElroy, Eloise Moody and Caitlin Heffernan in the autumn. The new commissions respond to the topography, wildlife, history and politics of the wetland environment, during the twentieth anniversary year of London Wetland Centre. Rob Campbell, Head of Experience, Engagement and Learning at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), said, “Wetlands Unravelled is the latest and most ambitious in a series of contemporary art commissions on WWT sites. We’re very excited to showcase, through this programme, new work from artists responding to the unique wetland habitat we manage at London Wetland Centre. We want Wetlands Unravelled to stimulate thinking and discussion around the vital role wetlands play in the environment and the fight against global climate change.”
Following my first visit to the London Wetland Centre (LWC) in the summer of 2019 the sonic movement of aeroplanes seemed an unstoppable metronome to the sounds of wildlife and reminder of daily conflicts within a protected environment where opposite ideals co-exist. Later I sat and sewed on location within my 86-year old mother and 12-year-old son. The movement of needle and thread became a repetitive process of short punctuating marks that sought out patterns and textures from the intermittent noise of the flight path, some high pitched, others lower and coarser in tone, layered over sounds of trees swaying in the breeze and intermittent birdsong. Sewing also became a trigger for a meaningful conversation about sewing in my mother’s childhood. Later into summer I developed further stitched pieces on locations, many with exceptional biodiversity, bringing my attention to intermittent sounds of varying magnitude, particularly attune to the sounds when transport and nature interfere with one another. This ongoing process will inform a new perspective to the open-ended shared engagement in the activity of stitchery that occurs when stitching in groups, defined by the sound-based contradictions specific to different spaces and places at the LWC and revealed as palpable stitches into cloth.
Wetlands Unravelled is the second major commission by Unravelled who collaborate with contemporary artists and makers to create works exploring histories, stories and a sense of place. From 2012 to 2015 they curated Unravelling the National Trust, a programme of artists’ commissions for Nymans House and Garden , The Vyne and Uppark, National Trust properties in West Sussex and Hampshire. www.unravelled.org.uk
Wetlands Unravelled is made possible by funding from Arts Council England and the Greater London Area of the Arts Society, and supported by Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.