The Stour: The Same River, Twice is a joint exhibition of new works by Louisa Martin and Reid Dudley Peirson who spent time in and around the River Stour to research and develop new work, including new films, interactive acoustic instruments and participatory installations.
The Stour: The Same River, Twice is an exhibition of new works by Louisa Martin and Reid Dudley Peirson made for Stour Valley Arts. When we opened the gallery in Ashford in 2011, we invited Louisa and Reid to spend time in and around the River Stour to research and develop new work. Their joint exhibition reflects and responds to the river in its landscape, and uses the river as a metaphor for our changing understanding of our world.
From its source near the village of Lenham, the River Stour passes through marshland and downs, picking up tributaries along its route and entering the English Channel at Pegwell Bay. Near the M20 in north-east Ashford the river swells as the Upper Great Stour and the East Stour join and the river bends its course toward Canterbury.
In Ashford it is difficult to understand the Stour's significance to the town. Some towns grow up around watercourses and their use for trade, irrigation and fishing. Ashford's remaining mill buildings - now used as nightclubs and houses - are reminders of the industrial past that grew by capturing the river's energy in watermills. However today the river meanders through Ashford unnoticed in underground channels or behind embankments, its value to the town reduced and unsung.
Heraclitus said that you cannot step into the same river twice, as each time it will be other waters rushing past your feet. Locally, people cannot even agree on how to say its name; in south Ashford the residents saying Stowwer, while in the north of the town they say Store. The River Stour is an ever-changing feature, historic vestige and cultural signifier, and it is its mutability of character, course and significance that the artists have navigated and explored in the creation of these new works.
Reid Dudley Peirson has made Nothing Ever Happens Here: Twenty Four Strings for Liminal Space, installed in Gallleries 1 and 2; in one room, acoustic stringed instruments play a continuous series of drones, chords and melodies; in the second is Reid's film of the River Stour as it flows through the town, the progress of natural and man-made flotsam marked by railings and tree trunks. As you watch the film your presence affects what is seen and heard, imposing the shadow of another view of the river and triggering changes to the musical work.
In Gallery 3, Louisa Martin's film Third Space shows an actor becoming familiar with the tools of filmmaking and using them to construct her own environment. Filmed in the same room in which the work is installed, the actor's movement and actions appear to show her thought processes as she imposes her own reality in order to escape from the imposed reality. Accompanying the film is Of Course, pages of text reminiscent of stage directions casually taped to the gallery walls coupled with blocking marks on the floor. By reading the text and moving through the gallery, the viewer is impelled to imagine an alternative version of themselves as created in a theatrical or filmic space, at once outside of the gallery and internally, within themselves.
The Stour is an invisible presence in the work, distant and intangible, referenced only by the artist's inference of it. Martin's commission for the Stour asks how much an individual re-mediates an already mediated space for themselves; is an environment valid to the viewer only when it is reframed and represented according to personal preferences? Is observation a passive experience or is it a visceral action?
The River Stour is a natural environment on which human needs have been imposed – marking a path, shoring a bank, lining a channel with bricks. If we want to re-present it as our own reality, we have to step off the path, jump from the bank and ignore the channel.
Friday 8th March 2013 3pm-4pm Stour Valley Arts Gallery
Free event: ‘Where is the river?’ artist talk, 8th March. This event is inspired by the current exhibition ‘The Stour: the Same River Twice’ featuring wotrk by Louisa Martin and Reid Dudley Peirson. RSVP to Stour Valley Arts
Artswork is pleased to announce the 2013 Schools’ Arts and Culture Champions nominated as part of the South East Bridge schools engagement plan supported by the Department for Education.
“Stour Valley Arts is delighted to be working with John Wallis Academy and Godinton Primary schools in Ashford through the Cultural Champions programme. Both schools value the opportunities offered for enrichment for their students offered by cultural education and we hope to share this learning as widely as possible through these important partnerships. We are grateful to Artswork for making this possible” Lucy Medhurst, Head of Education & Learning, Stour Valley Arts
Huttson Lo takes up the role as Stour Valley Arts new Director.
“The trustees, partners and staff are delighted that Huttson Lo has joined Stour Valley Arts as its new director. Huttson brings the skills, experience and energy required to help us to thrive at what is a challenging time for cultural businesses.” Martin Hall, Chair, SVA.
Read more about Huttson’s appointment here
Thanks to all who attended our sold out performances of Marks, Measures, Maps and Mind performances in King’s Wood through the 2012 August bank holiday weekend.
For those that missed it, the blog site Writing About Dance has a thorough account of the work here
A film about the work by Mark Castro & Max Philo can be seen here
and a short film by Anthony Wadham with excepts from the performance can be seen here
Marks, Measures, Maps and Mind by choreographers Dog Kennel Hill Project was commissioned by Stour Valley Arts, South East Dance and Turner Contemporary as part of RELAY.
Science Nature and Identity Exhibition - Oct December 2012.
Stour Valley Arts Youth Forum
If you are aged 14 - 25 and are interested in art and would like to learn about opportunities for work experience with an arts organisation, free art workshops with professional artists, learning about arts education, learning about working in a gallery, applying for funding for projects you’d like to develop and devising and running workshops then please join our Youth Forum. Our Forum meet regularly at our Stour Valley Arts Gallery, Elwick Road, Ashford.
To get involved or to find out more please call 01227 664987 or email firstname.lastname@example.org