Estuary Lab

An exploration into devising a performance piece in response to the intertidal qualities of the Dyfi Estuary: the shifting sands where the river meets the sea. Funded by the National Theatre of Wales, the project was intiated by landscape artist Jony Easterby and run by architectural designer Jenny Hall. I was invited to take part in the week long build lab, working with carpenters, boat builders, performers, musicians and crafts people to create site responsive installations.

We explored ideas of primitive man with environmental writer George Monbiot, learnt about eventful happenings from the outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank, delved into the layers of sedimentary deposits with a geologist and enjoyed welsh myths based in that very landscape from local story teller Adam Thorogood.

The glassy surface of the water was so appealing, I wanted to get onto it and travel along the channels of water, to experience how over time the route the water takes down to the sea changes as the mounds of silt shift and morph. I teamed up with Julie Starks, a willow worker, who was fascinated by deep sea creatures, and we quickly came up with a plan to make a giant floating sea urchin.

With the help of Tom Provost, cabinet maker, we curved ash poles to create an orb shape, and it took various iterations before we were able to cre

From around the headland appeared two spherical vessels, carrying human figures, floating silently and slowly on the outward bound tidal channels towards the sea. Without propeller or oars, the urchins follow the whim of the estuarine flows, their speed dependant on the tidal forces. When the depths got deep enough, the urchins spun and flipped, performing tricks to delight the onlookers. They displayed themselves on the sand bank for all to see their delicate patterned structures. And back into the water they rolled, onwards, around the bend, disappearing as easily as they appeared, pulled by the calling of the expansive sea.