UWE Bristol Research Team awarded Research Project Grant for collaborative project
Original article published 29 Nov 2021 by Research, Business and Innovation, University of the West of England.
A research team from UWE Bristol’s Centre for Print Research were recently awarded the ‘UWE Bristol Health and Applied Science (HAS) Faculty – Arts and Creative Education (ACE) Faculty Connecting Research Project Grant Scheme’ to work on collaborative project : Slow Violence and River Abuse: The Hidden Effect of Land Use on Water Quality
The existentialistic threats wrought by human induced environmental change take place gradually and often invisibly.
Figures recently released by the Environment Agency (2020) show for the first time that no river in England has achieved good chemical status and indeed that only 14% of rivers meet good ecological status in accordance with the European Water Framework Directive.
Pollution from sewage discharge and land misuse (agricultural chemical runoff) is having a huge impact and such slow violence is diminishing water quality through increased nutrient loading of rivers, leading to algal blooms. These “eutrophication” events limit light penetration, reduce oxygen availability and greatly impact microbial and aquatic life. This collaboration plans to initiate ideas and develop new cross-disciplinary methodologies which will be developed as part of a larger project on understanding river health.
Aims and Objectives
- To address this “slow violence” and our inattention to the chronic lethality of environmental degradation.
- To bring innovative possibilities of the print artist and environmental scientist and create a new collaborative environmentalism that responds to declining water quality in local landscapes.
- Analysis of local rivers to determine contaminants associated with algal blooms.
- To produce printed works that integrates laboratory and studio-based methodologies to create printed narratives.
- To critically engage audiences in the issue of declining water quality of our rivers and slow violence
The work generated will be informed by the collaborative process of fieldwork and knowledge exchange. ACE and HAS participants will engage in regular fieldwork, which will take place on site at Honeygar farm, Westhay in collaboration with Somerset Wildlife Trust.
The HAS team will undertake water quality analysis of local water bodies to understand their physicochemical state (e.g. nitrates, phosphates and dissolved oxygen concentrations), as well as identify algal species present. Algal species and any observed blooms shall undergo microscopy imaging (e.g. Light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) of algal blooms performed by GC. The laboratory work and imagining technology will inform and inspire a portfolio of prints to be created by ACE.
The ACE team will use traditional printmaking and experimental photographic processes to create printed outcomes that investigate and respond to the relationship between land use and aquatic health. The work will use several print processes which respond to the specificity of water bodies investigated and the initial findings gathered through fieldwork and lab analysis. This process will investigate how collaborative practice may create accessible narratives that respond to complex environmental issues.
Through fieldwork and experimental exchange of methodologies within HAS laboratories and ACE printing facilities this project will deliver the following:
- HAS/ACE Knowledge exchange through collaborative fieldwork will be undertaken. Sample extraction using scientific methodologies and documenting the affected water body through experimental print and photographic means
- Water samples and documentation will be examined and analysed in laboratories and will inform the printed response that within ACE print studios
- As a key outcome of the project, the work generated will produce a cross disciplinary exhibition and dissemination event which aims to engage new audiences and demonstrate findings from the ongoing exchange between ACE and HAS.
Professor Darren Reynolds HAS
Dr. Gillian Clayton HAS
Niamh Fahy ACE
Sarah Bodman ACE
Images by Niamh Fahy for ACE/HAS collaboration