Workshop 2: “Emotional Geographies of the coast; island imaginings and mud walking!”

Workshop 2 saw a number of UK artists and academics visiting Groningen and then going off to explore areas of the Wadden Sea and its coastal margins with our Dutch friends..

The workshop was times to coincided with the Fourth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies 1-3 July 2013 at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

3rd July 2013. A special session entitled “emotional geographies of the coast” convened by Owain and Bettina ran throughout day 3 of the conference. This in turn was divided up into three sessions of papers, performance and exhibits

Session Abstract

The coast is where the land stops and the seas and oceans start. An obvious point – but one of great significance for terrestrial beings for whom water is an alien element. This presents human (and non-human) communities with all manner of fundamental physical, social, cultural and economic challenges and opportunities. Coasts are powerfully affective margins because they are where we confront the enigma that is the oceans. Those with high (macro) tidal ranges, and/or those vulnerable to erosion, inundation and facing climate change induced sea level rise, are mobile, and turbulent and subject to a series of rhythmic and novel changes on time scales that range between the hourly, the monthly the seasonal and beyond. Emotions are fluidly mobile. They flow through and over us, can wash us away – can flood and ebb in the body and in collectives of bodies like a tide in complex rhythms – become turbulent, then calm.– or even a storm surge they can unsettle a body. The emotive registers of coastal experiences are multiple, ranging from the joys of holiday making to the profound dread of loosing ones’ home(land) through coastal erosion. Between these ‘extremes’ are a whole host of emotionally charged practices which include terrestrial and marine based recreation, on and offshore power generation schemes, coastal management consultations and decision making. As sites of emotional epiphany (tidal) coasts have long been the focus of artistic muse in terms of literature, sculpture, paining and performance.
This session seeks to explore any of the topics related to emotional geographies of the coast mentioned above.

1. Emotional geographies of the coast (Session 1): The southwest of England.

1.1 Rona Lee: Our boats become our women; our women, vessels of magic, become our boats.

1.2 Veronica Vickery: Disrupted coastlines: unsettling the image?

1.3 Rose Ferraby. Finding the Face: Narratives of stone on the Jurassic Coast

1.4 Steve Poole: Time and Tide: History, Memory and the Severn Estuary

1.5 Antony Lyons: Dreaming of Sabrina (‘What has the estuary ever done for us?’)

Abstracts for these talks can be accessed here.

2. Emotional geographies of the coast (Session 2): Encountering the elements.

2.1 Jon Anderson: Exploring the space between words and meaning: understanding the emotional geographies of surf spaces

2.2 Jelmer Jeuring and Karin Peters: The influence of the weather on tourist experiences

2.3 Anna Ryan: Oileán: a narrative of change

2.4 Simon Read: Lost in translation: an artist’s role in fostering the principle of community ownership in the development of viable coastal management strategies.

The abstracts of these talks can be accessed here

3. Special Session. Dwelling on the Shoreline: Suze Adams and Victoria Hunter. Details here (second item down)

In addition to the above, Michaela Palmer’s sonifications of the tidal Severn Estuary were exhibited at the conference. Micheala is a UK member of the Between the Two Tides network based at the University of the West of England . Details of the exhibit can be found here.

Owain and Bettina say thanks to all who contributed to this exciting session.

Everyone thanks Bettina for doing such an amazing job on the larger conference and also thanks to the conference for hosting the special session on coasts.


Steve Poole: Time Tide and History talk

4th July 2013. Post-conference excursion day 1  “Between the tides” – Schiermonnikoog



  • Introduction to the island of Schiermonnikoog
  • To strengthen the interdisciplinary network “Between the Tides”
  • To connect artists, scientists and people from the working field
  • To gather ideas for future research within the themes of the network

Tidal prediction for the day:

Time High Water (cm + NAP*) Low water (cm + NAP*)
01.50 -114
08.25 85
14.25 -144
20.55 90

*Normal Amsterdam Level, comparable to MSL (mean sea level)


8.00      Gathering Groningen Train Station, Central hall. Luggage transport will be arranged for people who will travel to Pingjum after the excursion.

8.21       Bus 163 to Lauwersoog

9.30       Ferry to Schiermonnikoog

10.15     Arrival Schiermonnikoog

10.30     Bike excursion through various landscape types on the island

12.30     Lunch at “the Herdershut” (Groningen University field lab)

13.30     Excursion on foot to the salt marsh and mud flats

15.30     Return to the Herdershut, bike trip back to the ferry

16.30     Ferry to Lauwersoog

17.24     Bus 163 to Groningen or travel to Pingjum

18.22     Arrival Groningen Train Station


island of Schiermonnikoog and routes taken  by bicyle and foot

Activities included:

A talk on how the tides and the ferries shape the rhythms of island life

Talk on the tidal ecologies of the island

island low tideIsland hide tide storm surge

Island at low tide (top) and high tide with storm surge. (The implications of sea level rise are all too clear).

A Improvised poetry/music performance by Sytse Jansma & Jan Klug out on the coast marshes (the dyke served as an auditorium)


Listen on Soundcloud

A guided walk on the salt marsh – tasting some of the salty plants

salt plant 1

Leave surface cast (Limonium) with salt glands and stomata

salt plant 2

Cross-section of plant root with aerenchym

Lunch and  discussions at the “the Herdershut” (Groningen University field lab)

And, of course, mud walking

A few pictures


A larger selection of pictures taken by Owain can be seen here

5th July 2013. Post-conference excursion 2  Exploring with Bob and Gerda 

The final phase of the workshop saw Antony, Owain, Steve, Simon, Suze, Davina (who was a bit ill!) Jan and Gwenda attending a evening of performance and film exploring the landscape around the village of Pingjum. They were guided, and royally entertained, by Bob and Gerda. Many thanks.


Film by Gerda


Maps of the local landscape showing the old tidal inlets


The memory of fish??


Out in the landscape

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