Test Sites: Calder Valley, Summer 2019

Ruth Levene, Working Waters, 2019; image courtesy the artist
Invisible Flock, Duet, 2017 at London's V&A Museum; image courtesy the artists

Over Summer 2019, in the context of Arts Catalyst’s ongoing programme and co-inquiry Test Sites: Calder Valley, Arts Catalyst presents a touring programme of installations and participatory activities exploring ways of caring for the ecology and water systems in the Calder Valley.

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, 21 – 30 June 2019
Mirfield Arts Festival at Mirfield Library, 13 – 14 July 2019
Across the globe, floods, loss of biodiversity and rising temperatures are pushing communities to rethink the way they live with natural and built environments. Environmental change represents a matter of concern that cannot be dealt with uniquely by scientists and decision makers; instead, it is a common ground that requires acts of re-imagination.
In the Calder Valley in Yorkshire, flooding and water pollution have been a problem for over 200 years, and in 2015 a major flood galvanized local communities into taking on a more active role in maintaining and managing the river and waterways, through volunteering and initiatives designed to enhance the resilience of the local ecology. 
Since 2017, Arts Catalyst has been working with artists, anthropologists and stakeholders from the Calder region to collectively explore water governance and its relationship with health, wellbeing and the resilience of communities and environments. The project asks ‘how can we re-imagine our relationship with the infrastructures that govern our everyday life through practices of care?’ The core team comprises artists Ruth Levene and Invisible Flock, anthropologist Megan Clinch and Arts Catalyst curator Anna Santomauro in conversation with local stakeholders and members of the community.
Over the summer, Arts Catalyst will present two new participatory installation works that emerge from the inquiry, marking a pivotal stage in the process.
Ruth Levene | Working Waters
Working Waters is an artwork by Yorkshire-based artist Ruth Levene that takes the form of a 3D model representation of the Calder Catchment. Populated by a variety of moveable miniature scenes – from canal locks to flood defences, tourists on walking holidays to flooded shops – visitors are invited to direct the scenery around, to activate and exert control over the landscape itself and become a steward of the water systems. Building on research developed over the past two years Working Waters is part of the wider project, Test Sites: Calder, which brings to the fore the complexities of the valley, its material and immaterial infrastructures and its governance. Here, a cyclist, a reservoir and a group of protesters become part of a multi-layered micro-reality in which visitors are invited to re-imagine their own agency within the ecology of the valley.
Working Waters is made in conjunction with model maker David Riley.
Invisible Flock | Duet
As part of Test Sites: Calder, interactive arts studio Invisible Flock and their collaborators Quicksand present a new iteration of Duet, their multi-platform digital art project about making connections, and finding space in our daily lives for expression and reflection. Comprising an interactive installation that aims to explore the relationship between the river Calder and its inhabitants, this new version of the work invites participants from the local area to respond to a series of questions via a temporary, artist-designed website, the answers of which will form an integral part of the finished work. The anonymous glimpses respondents leave will become an evolving, ephemeral artwork of stories, captured and woven into a digital light and text sculpture. By virtually connecting multiple voices from the communities who live along the river, Duet seeks to produce a choral and amplified perspective on the role that the river plays within the local ecology of the Calder valley. 
The Duet website launches on 1 May 2019. Click here to participate!
Test Sites: Calder is supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England, with thanks to the Canal and River Trust.