Gallery: Landline Arts launch 1947 floods exhibition

FLOODING in Ely may be a thing of the past thanks to Denver Sluice and the Environment Agency, but a newly-formed local artists co-operative has been so inspired by the 1947 deluge that they have created a fortnight-long exhibition, Flood Lines, based on

FLOODING in Ely may be a thing of the past thanks to Denver Sluice and the Environment Agency, but a newly-formed local artists' co-operative has been so inspired by the 1947 deluge that they have created a fortnight-long exhibition, Flood Lines, based on it.

Flood Lines is the brainchild of Landline Arts - a co-operative formed three months ago by artist Will Harvey, textile and environmental artist Jane Frost, and musician, composer and writer John Crowe.

Each has created a series of original works using photography, willow weaving, and musical composition for their first ever collaborative exhibition at Ely Library.

The three artists live and work in the Ely area and took as a starting point their own reflections on the way water and land use has shaped the landscape of the Fens in our present era of climate change.


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John and Will were both born in Ely - Will is the son of a river worker, Bill Harvey, who was employed by the Great Ouse River Board.

Will vividly describes evenings spent picking beet and potatoes, to get pocket money to go to the seaside at in the summer. He and John used to fish off barges at Cuckoo Bridge, which have now sunk below the river's surface, and all these locations are featured in Will's artworks.

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Jane Frost, who has worked extensively at Welney and Wicken Fen, has created a map of the Fen using objects found on the National Trust Site, reeds taken from the land, and clay from the bottom of one of their dykes. One of her tapestries is inspired by Bangladesh. "They manage the land in exactly the same way as the Fens, but are less disconnected with their environment than we have become in Ely," said Jane. "There is an assumption that the authorities will manage the water and the land that the powers that be will put it right, but that's not always the case. We have a responsibility to do so too," she added.

"We would like people who may have just moved to Ely to come and learn about the influence of the environment," added Will. "The older people who grew up here used to live off the land in a way that we don't any more. My father used to work on the river, then go off fishing on a Sunday. We would go trapping, live off the land really, but it ended with my generation."

The exhibition also includes a display of original photographs of the 1947 floods, taken by local man Walter Martin Lane and now owned by the Cambridgeshire Collection. Battle of the Banks, a written record of the floods, is on sale for those who want to learn more.

A display of plans for the 100-year Wicken Vision will be available on certain days.

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INFO: Flood Lines is at Ely Library until June 22. Opening hours are 10am-4pm on Tuesdays Wednesdays and Fridays, Thursdays 10am-8pm and noon till 4pm on Sundays.

Meet the artists on Sunday between 2 and 4pm, or attend a sculptural textiles workshop with Jane Frost at Ely Museum on Saturday, 10am-2pm. Jane will also be discussing the Slow movement, the art of slowing down your life, and stopping 'time poverty.'

John Crowe will give a premiere performance of extracts from his new play Flood, which portrays the event of 1947 through the eyes of a Fenland farmer. A member of popular East Cambridgeshire folk band Eel Pie, John has done more than 30 performances of his works throughout the area.

To book a place at one of the events call Jane Frost 01353 861944 or Will Harvey on 01353 664017. Landline Co-operative events are supported by ADeC and Cambridgeshire County Council.

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Do you remember the 1947 floods? Are your relations, friends or acquaintances in any of these photographs? Or do you recognise the locations? The Landline artists would like to hear from you. Simply call in to the exhibition in Ely library meeting room. One of the artists should be at the exhibition daily, or enquire at the library desk.

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