For Freedom Space with Rivers is a six month intergenerational arts project being led creatively by Rachel Clive and Kirsty Stansfield. It is building on Rachel Clive’s ecological theatre practice-based research at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Kirsty Stansfield’s arts in health practise at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.
The concept and opening questions
River flooding, like sea level rise, is increasing across the world and the effect of this on humans who live by rivers can be devastating. Freedom space for rivers thinking is an approach to river/ flood risk management which seeks to workwith rivers as they respond to a changing climate, rather than against them. It acknowledges that there are urban areas in which hard engineering approaches are necessary but advocates, where possible, for “more space for rivers to migrate and flood naturally” (Biron et al, 2014). When rivers have the freedom space to find their own way, they enrich the environment and nurture biodiversity in the process. Protecting freedom space for rivers means not building new developments on flood plains. As flooding increases, humans will have to retreat from rivers in some areas, and relocate, something that will clearly be easier for some humans than others.
This project is interested in generating conversations, creative processes and art-works about our connections with the rivers and waterways we live with. What happens to freedom space for rivers thinking in urban contexts, given the constraints on rivers in built up areas? How do we understand and experience freedom space for rivers thinking both practically and emotionally? How might we explore it creatively? What does freedom space mean for us as humans? How do our personal, social and material circumstances affect our experiences and understandings of freedom space?
How might we respect and nurture our own and each others freedom space, as well as that of rivers, across our multiple differences?
About the project
The project is offering a series of arts-based workshops and individual arts commissions exploring our understandings and expressions of freedom space for rivers, with particular reference to the River Clyde and its tributaries. The first workshop series relates to COP26, and is based at the University of Glasgow. The second workshop series is evolving around questions of health and care, and is based at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice. The third workshop series is focussing on urgent questions of precarity, migration, safety/asylum and solidarity and is based at Interfaith Glasgow. From these group workshops 15 individual artist commissions are being supported by the project. These commissions are being developed collectively with reference to a large travelling scroll, and will be shared publicly at the University of Glasgow in May 2022, six months after the end of COP26.
The project is funded by Being Human, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, and presented as part of the University of Glasgow’s The Dear Green Bothy programme, hosting creative and critical responses to climate emergency.
Images: Layering and Moving with the Scroll: Ardjila, Ghanima, Fatima, Fifi and Anwan, Springburn, March 2022 & Ghanima collecting water from the River Clyde, Dumbarton, March 2022.