#floodsnearhome call to action – prospecting future flooding

Disclaimer: I’m an artist, not a scientist or activist. I rely on readily available online data and do my best to ensure the maps and information I share are from reliable sources. But no-one knows the facts because it is impossible to have them. Everything is in turmoil. People used to prospect for gold, now we prospect for facts.

­Studio practice

I’ve lived close to the Severn for 30+ years and all recent work relates to it. I even wrote a book about it, which reflected my relationship with it and told  anecdotal stories and histories, peppered with autobiographical detail. Severnside Artist: An Artist’s View of the Severn was about my personal past and present.

This new body of work is about my present and future. And it is also about your present and future too. The impetus to do this work, exploring future flooding, was motivated by many things:

  • By my love of The River Severn and for my family – including children and grandchildren to come, and my friends too
  • My inability to cope with the hugeness of global climate change, how hopeless it can be to imagine any future at all
  • My admiration for Thunberg, XR, Friends of the Earth and all the other activists and campaigners who are working hard to raise awareness, and my  acknowledgement that I never go to mass gatherings or protests because I find it too scary, claustrophobic, physically not good
  • And my belief that art and words can have an impact in a different way

Keeping It Local

During lockdown a Facebook group called “the view from my window” went viral. People all over the world posted photos of views from their homes, which they were trapped in. It was amazing, and when people became ill with Covid they supported each other. It was a well of kindness and generosity, of lifting boundaries and sharing.

In our homes, we watch the world through our TV screens. We watch Attenborough on TV and we worry about the world. Then go out for a walk to blow the thoughts away. People have swarmed to coastlines and river paths to enjoy fresh open spaces.

If, like me, you can’t cope with the huge number of frightening things about climate change, maybe looking out your window, and trying to imagine what it will look like in twenty years, will help you get your head around it.

Of course, flooding won’t affect everyone, but we are an island with a huge coastline and many large floodplains. We can’t ignore the fact that we are heading to have far more inland islands than we can get our heads around.

So, this is my studio work. I seek to visualise and present prospective drawings and films, to make future flooding tangible and visible. I am using many tools, photographs, film, drawing, digital tools, research and printmaking.

Flood Projection Maps

When I first saw the maps on Climate Central I can’t say I wasn’t shocked, saddened and overwhelmed by that too. Looking at 50 years ahead was frightening, but only 20 years forward more so. This is what I saw.

Call To Action

If this resonates with you too, please join me. Here’s how

  • Look up the area you are living in and if it is at risk, please share a copy of the map
  • Use the slider on the left of the website page to set it to 2040 for consistency
  • Use #floodsnearhome to share on social media
  • You may like to share drawings or photos of the places as they are now
  • You may like to try and visualise what they will look like in 20 years’ time
  • If you are motivated to act, please do so
  • Follow me on @Severnsideartist on Instagram – I will start sharing more content

And to cheer you up, here is a short film showing how beautiful the Severn is now. And will be too, when the hills are islands. As Attenborough says “It’s not too late to make a difference”.