Exceptional DESiGN: Ecological art in Norfolk

Two King’s Water PhD researchers recently spent the weekend in Norfolk at Holt Hall Field Studies Centre working with Norfolk students on ecological art and science communication.

The first Exceptional DESiGN residential was held Friday-Sunday 19-21 February 2016. Students in Years 12/13 from across Norfolk and Norway came together for three days of outdoor (and indoor) fun and learning. Activities enhanced leadership, communication, teambuilding, campaigning, relationship building, science, writing, arts, and confidence skills. Students also got the chance to hear from university mentors – including King’s Water members Dan Mills and Becca Farnum – about their experiences and talk to them about personal goals.

King's Water PhD researcher Dan Mills works with students at Exceptional DESiGNDuring Exceptional DESiGN, participant teams were tasked by visiting poet Alana Levinson-LaBrosse to interview a local ecologist about an environmental phenomenon in the Norfolk area. Students heard about the 2012 storm surge, coastal erosion, a project to reintroduce eels in area rivers, the Sheringham Shoal wind farm, and invasive species. Students then wrote reflective poems highlighting particular phrases and ideas mined from their interviews. The next day, local artist Ruth Macdougall guided students in the process of creating environmental art. Groups created tactile and visual canvases representative of their poems. That evening, internationally known guitarist Michael Poll performed classical pieces for the students by Holt Hall’s inspiring fireplace. A selection of Michael’s music will join the canvases, artists’ statements, and poetry recordings to form an accessible multi-sensory interactive gallery of Norfolk ecology. The artwork will join pieces from the Exceptions Accessible Art” as a traveling gallery, displaying at universities and in community centres around the UK.

Completed pieces include one inspired by PhD researcher Dan Mills’ research on quagga mussels and invasive species in British rivers.

Mussels Full PieceThe unstoppable tide searing in, leaving more questions than answersMussel Close Up
It’s withering and all it sees in black and white
A dice is rolling on its edges infinitely
Present but absent at the same time
The wave is pushing and pulling circles of thoughts
An equilibrium of giving and taking from Mother Nature
like two sides of the same coin as the mussel moves


Dan also contributed to his own piece of original art, a response to coastal erosion patterns in Norfolk.

Student visual and tactile representation of coastal erosion in NorfolkSiege of the Sea

The confusion, the pounding advance
What do they want? What do they need?
The ocean should stay as ocean and the land should stay as land
Why must one crumble into the otherand take my home with it
The constant attack!
I can’t bare it
The noise at night, nature’s gunfire
So hard to believe this ocean can be kind
We shall stand fast

I once had power but I am nothing now
I am so large no one can fit my problem
and there is no solution anyway
my dignity gone, my defenses fallen
my bones protruding
would it be better if I just admit defeat
and realise my only solace is with the sea
I hope this winter I my last
I surrender

Our power has been stolen
Reclamation is our only solace
We pound and pound at our foe
Until it is weak and breaks
Then we batter it some more
The rocks shatter and we mock them
amused by their screams
“Stop” “STOP”
A building plummets
We triumph King's Water PhD researcher Dan Mills creates art at Holt Hall inspired by local ecological phenomenaFor more about the programme and to see more photos of student artwork, check out https://sites.google.com/site/designnorfolk/exceptional-design.


Naho Mirumachi to present at Cultural Institute event

Naho Mirumachi, King’s Water Head, was awarded a 2015 King’s Cultural Institute grant under the Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers to explore collaborations between water, art, science, and communication. “Reimagining Water” engaged artists, researchers, and students with scientific ideas evolving from Dr Mirumachi’s book ‘Transboundary Water Politics in the Developing World’. Next week, Naho will present the project’s outcomes.
Naho introduces Reimagining Water
The Cultural Institute at King’s warmly invites you to the showcase and launch of the Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers, which will take place on Wednesday 17 February at 17.15 – 19.30 in the Anatomy Museum at the Strand Campus.

The scheme seeks to provide Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from across all Faculties of King’s College London with the opportunity to develop a collaborative and innovative project with a cultural sector or technology / industry partner. It is designed as a response to a question many PhD students and Early Career Researchers face:
How can I make my research have an impact beyond academia?

The showcase will provide an opportunity for the 2015 award recipients to share the output of their collaborative projects. We will also be announcing the winner of a £500 prize for best project and launching the 2016 Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers.

If you are able to join us, please confirm your attendance here.

King’s Water Members win RGS Ralph Brown Expedition Award

Three member of King’s Water recently won the competitive RGS Ralph Brown Expedition Award. Mike, Rob, and Kate will carry out biodiversity research in Brunei.

The Ralph Brown Expedition Award is a single annual award offered to the leader of an expedition working in an aquatic environment. This includes the study of coral reefs, rivers, lakes and shallow seas. The project should be of value to the host country and, where possible, to the local community.

Mike Chadwick of the King’s College London Department of Geography will serve as the Principal Investigator. Dr Chadwick is interested in the effects of natural and human-induced ecosystem changes on aquatic organisms and the implications of ecosystem changes on the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. His past work has explored invertebrate function in the main channel of the Mobile River (Alabama), tidally-influenced rivers in England, tributaries of the St. Johns River (Florida), and intermittent streams (Maine and Florida). Current projects include studies of London’s urban rivers, biodiversity offsetting, and freshwater fish conservation in India.

Mike will be joined by co-investigator Rob Francis and PhD researcher Kate Baker. Dr Francis is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology whose research interests include ecohydrology and biogeomorphology, urban biodiversity and reconciliation ecology, invasive alien species, and warfare ecology. Kate is pursuing her PhD at King’s examining eco-hydromorphic mechanisms and interactions in tropical rivers.

Kate Baker Fieldwork 2Their project will explore the biodiversity of headwater streams in the Temburong District of Brunei Darussalam.

Congratulations to Mike, Rob, and Kate. Stayed tuned to WaterWords and @KingsWaterKCL for more updates about the project!