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Gatherings Downstream: A Creative Response to Climate Crisis

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper uses the mobility of water as a theme to draw together historical and contemporary mobilities and their relationships to climate change and environmental emergency. It is based on an art exhibition by the author at Quarry Bank Mill, a museum of textile industry in Cheshire, UK, in a mill founded by Samuel Greg in 1784. The mobility of water is used as a connecting device in the paper, and is also at the centre of the physical site. Water brought the cotton industry to the North West of England, providing the damp atmosphere and water power needed for spinning. Water is also integral to the life, death and erosion of meadows, trees, mosses and rocks that are features of that site. Water moves through the cells of plants and animals, is suspended in the air, flowing in streams and rivers, gathers in lakes and oceans, and transports people and goods. Water also connects multiple stories of exploitation at this site, from the Greg family legacy of commerce bound up with the transatlantic slave trade, to wide spread use of indentured children as mill workers, and later agricultural practices using chemical pesticides and fertilisers to grow maximum harvests that killed and polluted the soil and leached into surrounding watercourses.
The art work takes a posthuman approach to climate and asks: What can humans and machines learn about the impacts of climate change and ecological emergency from the trees, meadows, moss and lichen, rocks and river at Quarry Bank? Through five videos that combine archival material with environmental imagery the exhibition more broadly asks: How can we care for, and about, the gatherings of past and present, and their implications for the future.

Event (Symposium)

TitleClimate Emergency Moblities Symposium
LocationCentre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionInternational event