A drawing to explore the wider context of the Alkborough Flats Tidal Defence Scheme
The Humber Estuary from South Ferriby to Burton Stather, a drawing to explore the wider context of the Alkborough Flats, Tidal Defence Scheme.
In 2012 I was commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Landscape and Environment Programme to produce a drawing/map of Alkborough Flats in North Lincolnshire. The brief was to make a clear discursive connection to Mike Pearsons soundwork “Warplands” based on the same site also commissioned by AHRC. Each mapwork that I have undertaken over recent years has been with a very specific purpose in mind and this was usually to gain an insight into the dynamic of the natural systems at work, be they coastal or estuarine and the strategic approach to their management. Initially generated as a means of grounding myself in the discussion, I quickly realized that these works also could be a valuable tool in discussing change and management in a community context.
I started these works with a view that if, using a pictorial language, one can focus the essence of an enquiry on to a single sheet of paper, this could foster a spirit of reflection that might help stakeholders address issues on a better informed basis. I quickly realized in the process of making these drawings that I was engaging a methodology that was an equivalent to the processes described, the pictorial language started to work in a parallel way. Particularly in the use of watercolour on paper flow, permeability, porosity, liminality are values that are shared with watery environments. Armed with this I can see now that the works have acquired another dimension where the behaviour of medium is an active part of the contemplative process and lends the discussion another level of immediacy that would not be possible if treated just as information.
When I was invited to make this work, I started from a position of ignorance of the site itself but with an awareness of the range of processes that it would be subject to. As a consequence I decided that I would explore the conditions that drove the decision to realign the Alkborough Flats by mapping the wider context. Since this exercise is more disinterested than the projects carried out on the Suffolk Coast where I have a specific community role, I felt free to explore further the integrity of the drawing process in relation to the enquiry. As a result of this I could understand from a detached point of view, the dilemma of Flood Risk Management in an estuarine environment that is populous, highly industrialised and agriculturally extremely productive.