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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007
    At the water's edge
    Janette Porter, artist behind the Dingle Steps project, posted me an interesting article about her work from the Landscape and Arts Network Journal, 40, Feb 2007. Janette has been working as a climate change activist for the past eight years, attempting to 'push the boundaries of environmental leadership' by deliberately locating her projects outside of established galleries or an arts agenda, preferring instead to work with communities.

    And usually she's to be found working at the water's edge, whether on the Mersey or in the Valency, or at Wicken Fen. In the article she's not explicit about why she's drawn to the water's edge but I suspect that it may be because it is there that the effects of climate change are most noticeable. At the water's edge the rise and fall of water tables are vividly evident in nature and in the effect on the lives of people working and living there. At the water's edge the changing temperatures are marked by alterations in flora, fauna, animal life, and in Garston Docks, by the working practices of dockers who told Janette that rainier winters are not as cold as they used to be: 'These dockers are physically feeling how climate change is affecting their work on the docks.'

    One of the descriptions I most enjoyed was of Janette's work on a lost river route to the River Mersey, where she encouraged the children of St. Austin’s School, Riverbank Road to trace the long-hidden route of the river that once ran there, to revive the memory held in the place's name.

    Her work, she says, is about 'Natural movement, nature's movement and how we as people work alongside nature. Even though I am living in a city - a busy, moving, changing city at the moment - I always have that contact with how the force of nature is behind the city, leading the city.' This hints at a real quality of perception, not least in a city named after, and built around, a pool.