Tag Archive | Walk

Art and Energy inspires a drawing class in Crediton, Devon

by Naomi Wright

 

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It is the beginning of term and we stand about discussing our theme for our classes ahead. I suggest art and energy, it interests me for all sorts of reasons. I say I am helping with similar themed workshops with some college students outdoors as part of Regensw’s art and energy programme. I wonder whether it will interest the class. We think about the wide range of meanings for energy. Energy is everything, I say, remembering a recent workshop. In a physical sense, binding the molecules of our being, energy fixed from the sun, in the movement of a river, the heat from a fire, in our food, in the every-day. We have our own energy, in the spirit of the land, in leylines, in happiness, in despair.

 

So the term at Crediton arts centre has taken this as a theme…. A couple of us are working with an old luccombe oak that has had to be cut down in the local park. We think of the power within, the height and weight of it, the history in it, the energy held beneath in the ground. The dying energy, used by fungus, the last of the leaves to be photosynthisising.

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The tree………..

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Eileen’s tree

Others in the class discuss their drawings through the eye of an energy lens. Lines are energetic, directioned, growing. The still life is far from still as vegetation takes on a new meaning, pots spin, and all the senses are enlivened.

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Rebecca’s pots

We’re all curious in how this will progress…  Pat especially, as she has ideas for some new installations.

 

Naomi Wright is an artist who collaboratively researches the benefits of being outdoors in the elements.  In sunshine, wind, or rain she maps and constructs places, things and conversations that make the most of our ecological interplay.

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Brilliant podcast about energy in London!

Here is a wonderful episode of Londonist Out Loud, a podcast about London.

We find out about London’s energy and the city’s role in power and climate change, with Alice Bell and Max Wakefield.

Subscribe

Download MP3

Energy Tour

You eat it, drink it, sweat it, exploit it, feel it, see it and rely on it.

But how much do you know about it?

Join our Energy Tour for a journey through some of London’s most famous – and less well-known landmarks – as we weave energy’s epic story into the streets and buildings around us.

From the dawn of fossil fuels to leaky housing stock, from the origins of Shell Oil to the steps of Whitehall, from the lapping waters of the Thames to the grand delta of the Niger – let us fire your imagination towards a better energy future.

If you can’t make it, or you want a sneak preview – check out our Londonist Out Loud podcast tracing the route of the tour.

Energy Walk by Laura Watts (2014)

Energy Walk

The ‘Energy Walk’ is an ethnographic installation in the landscape. It weaves together the sand dunes and harbour seascape of the Danish Wave Energy Center, in Hanstholm, Denmark, with other landscapes at the energy edge: marine energy in Orkney islands, Scotland, and geothermal energy in Iceland. Over a 40 minute journey it offers you stories, experiences, and dreams of sustainable energy futures from our research project Alien Energy at the IT University of Copenhagen.

The walk begins at Færgegrillen, Hanstholm Havn, on the northwest coast of Jutland. There you can borrow a digital walking stick, carved from the wood of the nearby Thy National Park. Integrated into the digital walking stick is an audio player and headphones – technology that has been handcrafted for the project by GeekPhysical, who are part of Illutron, the floating collaborative interactive art studio.

The Energy Walk was written by Laura Watts, in collaboration with the research team. The Danish version was translated by author Peter Adolphsen.

The walk was launched in September 2014, and is now managed locally by VisitThy.

For those who are unable to visit the seascape of Hanstholm, the album is also available on Soundcloud, and you can download the Soundcloud app to listen to the album on your phone as you walk. The walk is in six chapters, whose beginning is marked in the landscape by wooden posts with the Alien Energy sign.

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Listen to EnergiVandring (Dansk)

 

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Listen to Energy Walk (English)

Video Recordings

You can now watch a 6 minute extract of the 40 minute ‘Energy Walk’ in the landscape of the Danish Wave Energy Center. Watch the video below…

https://player.vimeo.com/video/108659570

The IT University of Copenhagen, Communications Department, has produced an introductory video to the Energy Walk. It features both a description of the walk by myself, as well as feedback from some of the walkers who have travelled with the walking sticks along its path…

LAURA WATTS

Writer, Poet & Ethnographer of Futures

Making Energy Visible – Transition Newton Abbot’s energy sculptures

A little while ago, Faud Al-Tawil took me on a tour of Newton Abbot’s energy sculptures. I wanted to know what he felt were the main benefits of organising a public art project around an energy theme. I was particularly interested in how it brought the group together, simulated discussions and also maybe most importantly raised the local council’s an dlocal people’s awareness of what Transition Newton Abbot wanted to achieve. The following piece is was emailed in by Faud and outlines some of the challenges they’ve encountered!

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Back in late 2009 the TNA Energy group was riding high embarking on one of our early projects, Newton’s Cradle.  This involved an energy assessment and retrofit measures to our Town Hall.  Capital for this was raised through a grant provided by one of our Devon County Councillors.

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We quickly realised that not many people would be aware of this work and its impact unless we went out and told them about it.  The usual press releases and stalls were good, but somehow limited in terms of who listened and how they’d relate to the subject of Energy, not a priority for most people.

The idea of putting the message out there through Art came from one of the Energy group’s ‘bolder’ members.  An artist herself, and having just put a sculpture outside her front door, suggested doing something radical.  Quite a conceptual challenge for the more ‘sober’ engineers in the Energy group.

Still we took the plunge and set about putting a plan together.  As the autumn of 2015 approaches, we are about to deliver the last piece of that plan.  Not that we had anticipated such a long journey, it’s just that these collaborative projects take their time.

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A small team spent a day in the workshop playing with ideas and materials, the result was a prototype of a sculpture inspired by Chris Amey’s original.  This turned out to be such fun that we wanted more. We were now hooked on the endless possibilities of using Public Art to get our Energy message out there.

Off we went ‘selling’ the idea to others including Phil Rowe, the Town Clerk.  We knew it was meant to be because within a couple of weeks we got a phone call that a 150 year old cedar was being ‘taken down’ as it could threaten nearby residential properties.

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Our concept was to place the 3.5 m tall sculptures at the main approaches to Newton Abbot(road & train station) so that people coming to town would see them. Later, in the town centre, they’d have an opportunity to find out more from the info board next to sculpture sited centrally in the Golden Lion Square.

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The overnight action of five teams of 3-5 volunteers on the 5th Nov 2012 was the climax of a very interesting and exciting journey.  The story of this journey up to the installation of the sculptures at the approaches is detailed at http://www.transitionnewtonabbot.org.uk/?page_id=770.

Since then, Transition Newton Abbot has made the most of the sculptures.  Organising walks, talks and lots of publicity.  The journey itself was wonderful on so many levels, would we do it all again?

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Of course the full concept had not been achieved, the critical central piece of the jigsaw was still missing.  So it was panic stations when we got the message that Golden Lion Square would be ready to receive its sculpture in the autumn of 2015.  Three years is a long time for people and materials to move on and be lost.

All was not lost, we found everything and gathered some of the old team to create the sculpture and its info box.  It’ll be a good feeling when these are finally installed, maybe even this autumn.

Take a trip to Newton Abbot, see if you can spot the Energy Sculptures.

Energising Walks with Naomi Wright, tree and lamppost hugging artist

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Regen SW and Exeter Community Energy have been working with artist Naomi Wright over the last 2 years and last week, we ran the first ‘Energising Walk’ around Exeter as part of Relight my Fire Festival. Here is a summary from Naomi about the walk. she’s written it in a way to aid and encourage anyone else who wants to lead an energy walk with members of their community to explore and consider our relationship with energy.

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Start – Gathering at the Quay – 20th September 2015

Hi, I’m Naomi and  I’m aiming to take us on a walk around Exeter that leads to expanding and changing our thoughts about energy, as well as increasing the energy within our bodies as we go.  We’ll be seeing evidence of energy past, present and future and translating that into what it means for us as  individuals and as a species on the Earth.  Nothing major then!

Before we go I’d like to ask that we look out for each other and make sure that we don’t lose any of us. In my mind as a walking group we are binding ourselves with some sort of cohesive invisible energy. I’d prefer it if that energy glue didn’t come unstuck! I have a mobile phone which I will use in any emergency. I’m aiming for easyish route and few steps, but let me know if you’d rather go your own way.

Shout out any questions at any point, find things out from your co-walkers, this walk is about energy exchange and some of you on this journey will have far more knowledge than me!

To start our first part of the walk, let’s shout out a few words that energy means to us:  “Coffee, Sun, Water, Wind, Dancing, Batteries, Food, Waves, Fresh Air…..”  Thanks for those.  Yes energy to me means all things too – the very essence of what it means to be alive and living.

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Stop 1  South Street

Our first real stop – all about Energy Consumption. Exeter has had it’s commercial centre for hundreds of years… and around shops you feel and see the expense of energy in a literal and physical sense. In 1000, Exeter was the 4th most commercial city in the country with 3 markets a week. And later became a city whose wealth came from the manufacture and sales of woolen cloth.  It was a hive of energetic commercialism.

How do you see the energy being consumed here?

Walking, cars and use of oil….. Oil that finite ‘trapped ancient sunlight’ that comes from fossil fuel, crushed forests and animals from millions of years ago. Shopping, stuff, made here, made abroad, manufacturing, restaurant kitchens, gas and electricity, food, food miles.

Stop 2 Exeter Cathedral

Here is a place to stop to consider other forms of energy – any views?

The cathedral with it’s longest nave in the world, it’s solid towers seen for miles. The energy that went into building it well beyond a hundred lifetimes.

This old part of Exeter, it’s history visable, within the roman walls has held many medieval churches, and a priory down the road. There used to be whole streets full of priests…. Parson street – the prayer and spiritual energy that filled this area must have been palpable.

The Cathedral itself is not aligned East West apparently.   It is aligned to the sunrise on 29th June, St. Peter’s Day.  This place of christian worship, giving equal consideration to the sun.

Ley lines then – are they coincidental lines running through three or more prehistoric places…. Or do they hold a particular energy? Are there any about here?? I haven’t found any on a map – but does that mean that they are not here??  Is it all nonsense?

We have different views – but we all agree that as people gather in places to research this truth they can create a positive energy between them.  One person mentioned the Cathedral Green being a place to gather and relax, have picnics, enjoy the atmosphere (what do mean by that?)  Another mentioned rallies that take place in the square, a coming together of thought energy and literal energetic action.

And Dowsing – anybody had a go at that?? Is that indicating real energy in the earth.

Stop 3  Southernay

Here we are in a green and tranquil place in comparison to the commercial centre of Exeter.  The medieval energy in construction, commerce and religion has been replaced by later 18thand 19th century commercial buildings here, built around an open space that has always existed just below the city walls.  Does the energy in Southernhay reflect this? This nature based area kept for healthy promenading throughout the history of the city – more walking energy.

But I’m stopping here to think about the trees – these are special trees that have been planted or grown from seed collected by plant hunters like Exeter based Mr Veitch and grown in the Luccombe nurseries. The Exeter or Luccombe oak in this area grown from a cross between a holm and a turkey oak.

The energy trapped in trees is amazing to contemplate, and over hundreds of years these trees capture the suns energy and with this photosynthetic process turns it into oxygen and growth. I would like to ask you, if you like, to hug or touch a tree in this area.

Can you feel the energy?  Some do and some don’t – but we share an experience from someone who has been told that you can feel the energy change around yew tree trunks about 10cm from the surface – a distinct change in temperature.

Now in comparison to a lamp post – tree like in height, carrying energy in it’s head, rooted by cables. Let us feel the difference and think about the energy in this.

Stop 4 Water – the river, leats and Mills

Surrounded by river estuary, marsh and sea,  you could say that Exeter grew with the importance of the energy potential in the water. And those that managed the water and the energy from it were the most powerful in the City. A likely scenario to be reflected in the world as water becomes scarce in some parts.

Come Saxon times the marshy and boggy land started to be reclaimed for growing food to feed the growing population. Higher and lower leats were dug out around an areas called Exe Island and Shilhay.

A medieval bridge was built – the remains still present – and showing how the route of the river has changed. The water to be crossed all powerful.

Then the water started to be harnessed to drive water wheels and mills.

Stop 5 Cricklepit Mill

The only working mill in Exeter, but also one of the oldest – there used to be 9 in this area.   From Cricklepit street you get a really good view of the building and wheels.  Cricklepit initially built in 1220 using water in the leats.  A weir was contructed by the Bonhay Cliffs to create a larger head of river water to provide energy.  This was originally a Grist Mill, grinding corn later a fulling mill for bashing woolen cloth, and lastly grinding and cutting animal feed.  Now it is open the second Friday of the month, headquarters of Devon Wildlife Trust, and flour can be purchased here.  The new hydroelectric turbine is constantly on the go.

It seems all this land and water belonged to the Courtenay family who also owned Topsham quay. By constructing weirs across the Exe they purposefully kept Exeter quay less profitable and smaller. But they also managed water levels feeding into the mills and therefore the power and produce made from them. They reduced water in fish pools, damaging the fisheries. Countess Weir is named after Countess Isabella Courtenay.  This expression of territorial human energy hasn’t changed!

The all powerful Courtenays eventually upset the royals and their land was given to Exeter City Council to manage. Thus opening up the opportunity to build the Exeter Ship Canal and put in another weir to feed that – Trews Weir.   Mr. Trew was employed by the City Council to help construct the canal.

The presence of the canal from 1560s enabled ships to come right up to Exeter, and Exeter profited as a result.

Stop 6 Exeter Electricity Company and the big turbine hall

Now we are standing outside the old Haven Banks Electricity Power station.  Now a Climbing Centre.

In the 1880s after the Edison invention of the electricity generator, Henry Massingham set up the Exeter Electric Light Company.  The City Council bought this out and it became the City of Exeter Electric Company. Initially interested in hydroelectric power but switching to coal via ship and train this Exeter electricity generation hall was built.   It had a 155ft chimney and a turbine hall of a scale similar to many churches in Exeter.  The naves holding religious energy, the turbine halls containing electricity potential energy. Both ancient and victorian buildings ornate and full of art and technological craftsmanship.

In less than 30 years, Exeter was becoming electric and managing it’s own power.  But all the small companies were gradually nationalized from 1947 when South West Electricity board was formed.

This nationalization of our energy has led to a very powerful group of 6 companies. Now Exeter Community Energy are working with all sorts of enterprises and public buildings to install community owned solar pv.

This generation hall closed in 1955 and stayed empty for years.  2007 brought an end to plans to turn it into a hotel with arson – a very energetic destruction

Stop 7  Gas Works and Welcome Inn

The Welcome Inn was built for the ‘energy’ workers of haven banks.  The Gas works were adjacent to here with their gas holders taken down in 2014.  Gas was provided free to the pub next door.  Gas is now stored in compressed grids underground.  The gas was a product of coal, with coke as a by product.

I find it a shame that these holders have been taken away.  I think it is because to me they had their own living energy – they breathed up and down, in and out like animals.  And like nature, the weather, I never knew what view to expect when I came down to the quay and looked across the water.

Exeter was the first City to have gas lighting in 1815.  So those lamp posts that I like hugging – some of them do have a long history!

Now we are going to find the electricity sub station following the clues from maps of the cables underground.  Western Power Distribution is in charge of these cables and electricity distribution.  They would give you a map too if you asked nicely, and it was for art.

Stop 8 Electricity Sub station

These take electricity from the main grid at 132 Kilo volts and transform them to smaller voltages eventually suitable for our homes (11kv). Each one leaks some electricity and power as it transforms in the alternator.  The hum and the heat disipates and again the station feels alive.

Places known locally, vibrating tingling menacing magnetic. What do you think??

Various information exchanges, the distance between the wires coming in designed to prevent arcing, the voltage maximised to reduce the current and the waste, the engineering of the transformer boxes.  All a bit over my head – literally – but I can see the art in it.

Stop 9 On the bridge over the canal.

We are looking at Trews weir and the paper mill which was driven by the head of water produced and designed by Mr Trew more than 500 years ago.

Our Future energy – So this is a place to look across at solar panels, think about wind both on and off shore, geothermal – more ways of producing energy from the renewable sources around and below us.  People discuss district heating systems being trialled in new towns such as Cranbrook, and community solar projects such as in Wonford.  The future could look bright.

Do we spend more time on technologies that save energy, should we spend more cash on design and development of renewable technologies or shall we cast more votes for those politicians that seem to care and could encourage a difference?

Stop 10 The end

We have walked and form a closed circle of our energy journey in Exeter.

Lets send a physical wave round the circle and then good bye to each other – our day ahead energised, our mind electrified??

Photos to come – better to publish now, than not to waiting for images…. I think.