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Gathering Downstream

Project: Research


What can humans and machines learn about the impacts of climate crisis and ecological emergency from the trees, meadows, rocks, river, mosses and lichens at Quarry Bank?

Artist Jen Southern’s specially commissioned installation Gathering Downstream is linked by a central theme of the movement of water on different spatial and historical scales, and attempts to understand the impact of the industrial revolution on climate change and ecological emergency. It has been inspired by the River Bollin that lies at the heart of the estate and which brought Samuel Greg (1759-1834) and his cotton mill to Quarry Bank in 1784. The artwork unfolds through films created with machine learning technology trained with thousands of images from the Quarry Bank estate and archives. Visitors can contribute photographs to collectively change future versions of the films.

The artwork explores the legacy of the Industrial Revolution and its, often exploitative, impact on the landscape and people. The installation gathers together the movement of plants, rocks, people and machines, through their relationship to water. From the river and damp air that brought both mossy abundance and the cotton mill to Quarry Bank, to the drought and flooding that are two of the biggest global impacts of the climate crisis.

In the films, the human-made, machine-made and natural are interwoven, intimately entangled, and inseparable. As they struggle to co-exist, they are teeming with human and non-human life, and each could easily overwhelm the other. With their lives so closely connected, the work suggests an urgency to act now to care for our collective futures.

Visitors to Quarry Bank can explore Gathering Downstream from 7th May 7th – 25th November 2022 and partake in activities that will contribute to the emerging videos.
Effective start/end date7/05/2227/11/22



Research outputs