Severn Estuary Scouting Trip; Heather Green and Owain Jones; 9 – 15th January 2020

Trip background.

The idea of this first trip to the Severn Estuary for US based artist-scholar Heather Green  was to – in Heather’s words

“help me 1) understand the best locations for mudflat casts and the general condition/consistency of the mud, as that was a big unknown for me, 2) get to know you and see if we could figure out a way to collaborate , 3) experience the Severn in various locals on either side of the estuary, and with your help, begin to get a sense of the natural and cultural history, and some of the stories (man made and otherwise) that are being written and erased, so that we can begin our project… which will be a parallel project to that in Bahía Adair, and which will be shown together.”

Project Statement by Heather Green.

Esturine landscapes are incredibly vital ecosystems: providing feeding and nesting areas for migratory birds, serving as a nursery for many important fisheries, and protecting coasts from erosion, to name a few. Because of their strategic positions that offer sites for bridges, harbors and industry, these landscapes are also impacted by human development, waste and destruction. Because of their fine sediment, they are much slower to flush wastes and toxins than sandier substrata making them quite susceptible, even fragile.

The tides of the Northern Gulf of California in the Sonoran Desert are among the largest in the world, and the 3rd largest in North America. Located on the mainland side of the Mexico, the ebb tide in Bahía Adair reveals patterns and traces of the movements of rays, invertebrates and birds that are etched in its expansive mudflats. All the marks sculpted in the flats are partially erased or hidden by the tide each day, transforming the exposed mudflats or the water that subsequently blankets them into a kind of semi-diurnal palimpsest2. Geographer Owain Jones of Bath Spa University describes how rhythmpattern is timespace animated, encompassing the consonance and dissonance within tidal landscapes that are overwritten by development3. I’m interested in using the metaphor of a palimpsest to describe this overwriting and other ephemeral conditions of this terrain. Just as the mudflats become a palimpsest after the tide’s daily erasing of the cursive travel of snails and other scripted impressions, so too, do many man-made pursuits; the overwriting for development obliterates rich ecological stories and effaces local narratives.

I see this first project in Northern México as my pilot project for a much longer trajectory. After completing Tidal Timespace and the Palimpsests of Bahía Adair I plan to duplicate the same piece in other sites with record tides that expose a vast expanse of mudflats, diverse biomes, species and geographic locations. When shown together, these tidal explorations will highlight each site’s unique specificity as well as the broad similarities between them. The next site I’ll be working in is the Severn Estuary in the UK—which shares many attributes with Bahía Adair—unveiling a large liminal space during low tide where traces are inscribed and erased, and where a precipitous vulnerability to environmental threats is laid bare. My hope is that the impact of this project will inspire a sense of reverence and care among local communities, but even more, that the collaboration with other stakeholders in these places will prove fruitful—sharing ideas and concerns, offering potential exchange between institutions, and potentially developing future projects.


Trip Map / Log by Heather Green.

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Site 1. Burnham-on-Sea. (with Laura Denning, artist and PhD student).

Slide show of Owain’s and Heather’s photographs

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We are very interested in the detailed textures, patterns and ‘airs’ (atmospheres) of these places, and how they change with the weather, tides and the seasons. So there are a lot of photographs.

It was very windy

This is were we found what we called ‘Sea Biscuits’.

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See separate blog post here on these. We have added this to our glossary of tidal terms.


Brean  – beach (with Laura), and Brean Down.

Slide show of Owain’s and Heather’s photographs

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Site 3. Severn Bridge near Aust.

Slide show of Owain’s and Heather’s photographs

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Site 4. Sand Point.

Slide show of Owain’s and Heather’s photographs

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Short video of the tide race of the incoming tide around the end of Sand Point


Site 5. Clevedon. (with artist and PhD student Lydia Halcrow).

Slide show of Owain’s and Heather’s photographs

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Site 6. Arlingham.

We arrived hoping to be able to walk out oto  the riverbed at low tide. We could,  in the end, but only walking up stream for half a mile or so. We we lucky to be out on the sand banks exposed at low tide as a spetacular moon rose of the village of Framilode, which is a bit futher upstream.

It is here we got excited by the marks left on the sand by logs and similar scrapping along the riverbed as the tide ebbed to the point they were left high and dry (until the next tide). We called the ‘treeces’.

See separate blog post here on these. We have added this to our glossary of tidal terms.

Slide show of Owain’s and Heather’s photographs. They are a bit random in order as from about 3 cameras.

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Here is a short video just panning aound the view as we were on the sand banks.


Site 7. Severn Beach (with artist-reseacher Antony Lyons) (travel by train).

Slide show of Heather and Owain’s photgraphs

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Site 8. Dunraven Bay, Wales

A very varied landscape; so many pictures.

A slide show of Heather’s pictures (Owain not present).

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Sites 9 and 10. Black Rock and Goldcliff, Wales. 

(poor weather). A slide show of Heather’s oictures. (Owain not present).

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