milking parlour floor
Oospore image sited outdoors at west end of the old nave space; live reading of Eleanor Holliday's text
milking parlour apparatus
Inside the old chancel: groups of banners sited beneath each wall text
milking parlour apparatus
Inside the old chancel: detail of printed bronzes; bronzes in evaporation dish
simon emerging from milking parlour with camera
Still from Decoy video (see link below); video cabinet at entrance to chancel; still from Decoy video
Details from Pulse of the Thames (left) and Decoy (right); insets show full vertical-HD format
Forgetful Worlds

PLACE: Cotswold Water Park

PROCESS: Climate change

This installation/performance was sited in and around the Old Chancel at Waterhay, the nave of the church having been relocated a mile away in 1897 due to flooding. Presented as a 'theatre of objects', A Space for the Bittern brought into alignment historical events, current environmental data (the flow of water in and out of the Cotswold Water Park – Pulse of the Thames), and future conjecture (the migration of birdsong due to rising sea levels – Decoy) to explore our shifting relationship with water in a time of climate change (see exhibition guide, download below). Situated on the southern edge of the Cotswold Water Park and close to the source of the Thames, the installation included 3D-printed bronzes (Residue), animation, photography and a specially commissioned vocal soundscape by Eleanor Holliday, to create an imaginary space in which to consider how we might need to adapt in the future. As a metaphor for this change, Simon Ryder took the spiral form of the oospore (seed) of the ancient stonewort plant, which thrives in the lime-rich waters of the Park. The five interlocking spiral cells that make up the oospore appear as a recurring motif throughout the work. That form was explored further through the use of sound, focussing on how sound can shape water and water can shape space. Layered sung and spoken sounds brought the various threads together, in anticipation of a new sound, a migrant sound, that of the ‘booming’ Bittern.

“A sanctuary transformed, spirituality in the air but free of restrictions and relevant to the here and now.... a space to inhabit, be it for the bittern or for us to imagine, with the eyes and feelings of an artist... a glass bowl, lifted of the ground, floating, inside elongated spiraling forms... as I roll them in between my fingers I hear the weaving of words, watery words, earthy words, sounds... this is starting to build something in me... extensive research is filtered through the layers of the artist's awareness... demonstrating a beauty of thought in great depth... bringing a softness into the digital data that I so far have only experienced with handmade objects... the power of being able to pick up a theme from many angles, all related as the theme shines through the layers.... I see A Space For Bittern as a invitation to imagine change... the future of climate change.” A-M Bohl


Video: Pulse of the Thames and Decoy

Sound: reading of A Space for the Bittern text, written by Eleanor Holliday

PDF: Exhibition guide

Residency: Cotswold Water Park, funded by Arts Council England

Outcome: ‘A Space for the Bittern’ exhibition/performance in the Old Chancel, Waterhay, including printed bronzes, photographic banners, animations, sound and live performance, supported by Leigh Parochial Church Council, the Churches Conservation Trust, Gloucester City Museum, Plunkett Associates and featured in SVA's Site Festival 2014

Art consultant: Lesley Greene