Tantalum Memorial, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

bnr#8 => Tantalum Memorial, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

Fruits of the Thames

As part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary we are holding three FREE further exploratory workshops to digest and map the Fruits of the Thames. These 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 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.

Protective clothing and equipment.
To take part in any of the workshops you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting wellies, walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary), plastic bag for your phone (otherwise it will get wet) and a container for harvesting edibles. You can also bring smartphone, laptops, tablets and cameras or if you have other GPS devise to build your own maps, but this is not a requirement for participation.

(1) Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Date and Time: (weather permitting) Saturday 13 September 8.30am to 1pm
Estimate number of assistants: 7-15max
Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea Station
Dropping point: Old Leigh
Protective clothing and equipment (see above)

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 above) 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.

(2) Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

Date and Time: (weather permitting) Sunday14 September 10am to 4pm
Estimate number of assistants: 7-20max
Meeting point: The Fisherman’s Chapel, New Road Methodist Church, New Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EA
Protective clothing and equipment (see above)

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 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.

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

(3) Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa
(Joint workshop with Digital Housing Hub project in association with South Essex Homes)

Date and Time:(weather permitting) Saturday 20 September 10am to 4pm
Estimate number of assistants: 7-15max
Picking up point: Leigh-on-Sea Station
Dropping point: TAP (Temporary Art Project) Gallery, The Old Waterworks, North Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 7AB
Protective clothing and equipment (see above) + bring a small sharp knife or secateurs & a plastic container.

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. After the walk we will move to TAP in the town where we will make some lunch out of what we harvest in the morning and taste them.