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A series of workshops as part of Wrecked on the Inter-tidal Zone

Fruits of the Thames

YoHa, Matsuko Yokokoji, Graham HarwoodPaul Huxster, Andy Freeman

Leigh-on-Sea and Two Mile Island
Thames Estuary

13/09/2014 – 20/09/2014

As part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary we are holding three workshops in Leigh-on-Sea to digest and map the Fruits of the Thames.

Book here

13 September - Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Eventbrite - Mud Larks among the Eelgrass with Paul Huxster

14 September - Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

Eventbrite - Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

20 September - Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa

Eventbrite - Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa

As part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary we are holding three free workshops in Leigh-on-Sea to digest and map the Fruits of the Thames.

13 September - Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

14 September - Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

20 September - Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa

Because of the delicate ecosystems, each workshop is limited to 15-20 participants, please book using the booking links below. These workshops are part of Wrecked on the Inter-tidal Zone a project by The Arts Catalyst and YoHa and lead on from the workshop Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames held in July 2014 at Leigh-on-Sea's Maritime Festival.

Catastrophe can afford a certain optimism. Many would say the worst has already happened to Two Tree Island, Leigh-on-Sea, situated on the north bank of the Thames Estuary. From 1936 to the mid-1980s the site was used as landfill and a sewage works, leaking PCBs, DDT and other nasties into the salt marsh. Southend-on-Sea and Castle Point local authorities have little data about what lurks beneath the uneven rubble, plastic bags of dog poop, half-empty 1950s Brasso tins, chip wrappers and the ruins of long-forgotten Southend-on-Sea property booms. In 2004, the Island’s chemical cocktail leached into the genomes of surrounding shellfish percolating to public attention in Parliamentary questions.

In recent years Essex Wildlife Trust and a host of local volunteers have transformed the Island into a haven, allowing wild Essex to perch on top of its abandoned urban filth. Today beautiful — and sometimes exotic — wild apples are tempting to eat, blackberries flourish and cry out to be jammed; fennel, shellfish and sea aster spring from once-contaminated soil. Two Tree Island is not too different from anywhere else in the UK, where the worst of poisonous substances and their potential hide beneath the surface.

Workshop Details 

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Saturday 13 September 8.30am to 1pm
Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea railway station, Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2ET
Dropping point: Old Leigh

Using geo-locating devices such as smartphones, geo-tagging photo-cameras and GPS devices we will assist amateur biologist and gardener Paul Huxster studying Eelgrass and Cordgrass spatial fluctuations across Leigh’s tidelands. Local micro and macro biodiversity depends of these two plant species.

In the 19th century various Cordgrass species were introduced to the tidelands of Two Tree Island, as a low-end land reclamation experiment to expand Old Leigh's public land for grazing sheep. It proved a resounding failure for the positivist minds of land speculation. Today Cordgrass is an attractive nutrient for invasive grazers as they migrate toward the Estuary’s warming waters. And both Cordgrass and grazing animals are steadily establishing in the area. However, siltation processes are also altering the local environment, and as sea temperature rises, Eelgrass species are being pushed from Essex shorelines northwards, affecting in turn many other the breeding, feeding and migration of other species.

Images will be compiled using the hashtag: #mudwalkingleight. An interactive map and extensive documentation will be produced to help Paul Huxster to track this complex yet contentious process in which science oughtn’t have the only say. We want to reflect upon what constitutes native or non-native ecology and what defines novel versus historical ecosystems in an age in which human activity constitutes the main force driving ecosystems’ change. And, above all, contemplate the cultural systems we use to value them.

The tide on the day will be early, so we need to start walking by 9am. Participants should bear on mind that the event is demanding physically; appropriate gear (listed below) is essential, especially tight wellies and a strong stick for walking. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to walk the mud, then after little rest and light refreshment, participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online maps produced on the day or produce their own map. 

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting willies and strong walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary). Smartphones or GPS devices are welcome but please bring a plastic bag to keep the dry.

Free workshop, the workshop will end in Old Leigh where participants will be encouraged to join the workshop leaders enjoying the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters can be bought locally for just 75p each.

Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

Sunday 14 September 10am to 4pm
Meeting point: The Fisherman’s Chapel, New Road Methodist Church, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EA (5 minutes walk from Leigh-on-Sea railway station)

With GPS enabled camera phones and free online tools its now easier than ever to make useful, fun and beautiful maps that can show anything from your holiday snaps to the distribution of edible plants in polluted soil.

Andy Freeman will introduce a range of techniques for making and sharing maps using simple digital methods. The workshop includes a walking tour of Two Tree Island where participants will learn how to collect geo-tagged images and data using either their mobile phone or equipment supplied on the day. Data we hope to collect and map on the day includes:

  • aerial photography using a drone and/or kite (weather dependent)
  • geo-tagged photos
  • air quality
  • sampling water for pollutants
  • ambient sounds
  • ambient electromagnetism
  • background radiation
  • the blueness of the sky (using a cyanometer)

Participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online open maps produced on the day or produce their own map. The workshop runs from 10am-4pm and includes light refreshments. Participants are welcome to bring their own laptops, tablets and cameras to build their own maps as wi-fi will be available, but this is not a requirement of participation.

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing, walking shoes and rainwear. You can also bring smartphones, laptops, tablets and cameras as wi-fi will be available for the indoor parts, but this is not a requirement for participation in the workshop.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Supported by Dave Black from BlackWing Services http://blackwingservices.com/

Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa

(Joint workshop with Digital Housing Hub project in association with South Essex Homes)

Saturday 20 September 10am to 4pm
Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea railway station, Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2E
Dropping point: The Fisherman’s Chapel, New Road Methodist Church, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EA

YoHa will guide you through the potential hazards of eating wild herbs, plants and fruits of the former landfill site of Two Tree Island. We will meet you at the Leigh-on-Sea station and go for walk and collect edible plants along the way. After the walk we will move to Fisherman’s Chapel in Leigh where we will make some lunch out of what we harvest in the morning and taste them.

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear and walking shoes. Bring a small sharp knife or secateurs & a plastic container for harvesting edibles.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Links

Mud walking June 2014 http://vimeo.com/101228535

Interview at the workshop "Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames" on Leigh maritime festival July 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5DJPqsImvs

YoHa website about this project http://yoha.co.uk/wrecked