Drawing attention to the plight of wetlands and wildfowl


Artful Migration Artist-in-Residence 

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Angela Alexander-Lloyd at WWT Caerlaverock. Photo by Colin Hattersley
Angela Alexander-Lloyd at WWT Caerlaverock. Photo by Colin Hattersley

We are pleased to see our Artful Migration residency featured in today's Herald:

AFTER spending the winter on the internationally important wetlands of the Solway Firth, hundreds of magnificent whooper swans have departed on their perilous flight back to Iceland. All year round this astonishing landscape, only just above sea level, provides a refuge for birds of many species. These include ospreys migrating to southern Scotland from Africa.

But the future of this environment and of some of the creatures that depend on it, are at risk. Rainfall has greatly increased and there is pressure from rising sea levels. There is more flooding and more storm surges that are related to climate change.

An increase in our summer temperatures is changing the migratory and breeding behaviour of many birds. Some benefit from warmer climes, but others are being driven towards extinction in the UK.

Recent research from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) warns that the threat to the landscape and wildlife is real and serious.

Stories like this often make us sit up and take notice for a few moments, but we soon turn the page. News stories and research reports are a mighty force, yet often not enough on their own to make us act.

The arts can help. They affect both the emotions and the intellect, which means they can be a powerful driver of change. If we “feel” as well as “know” we are more likely to start taking the action that is needed to help restore the balance of nature.

In a bid to raise awareness of the potential impact of climate change Ginnie Wollaston of Moving Souls Dance along with Upland CIC and WWT have set up a three-year project called Artful Migration. It involves a series of residencies giving artists a platform to produce work that will inspire debate.

The first residency was awarded to Angela Alexander-Lloyd, a Kinross based visual artist specialising in video and sound installation. The body of work she has created will be unveiled at the WWT’s Caerlaverock reserve at the end of this month and promises to be truly thought provoking.

It will include an interactive site-specific sound walk, a video installation and a live performance.

Visitors will be able to listen to the audio while they are fully immersed in the landscape, with the recordings provided via QR codes placed along the route and relayed through their mobile phones.

It will allow them to hear about the experiences of local people and environment professionals. There will also be the instantly recognisable voice of naturalist and WWT vice president Sir David Attenborough, talking about the fragility of the changing environment and the impact of human activity.

Sometimes we think of climate change as something that is far away on the horizon or that’s only a pressing concern for other parts of the world. Scientists and environmental agencies frequently express concern at people’s level of involvement and engagement with these issues. Using art as a way to communicate and explore these issues provides another approach.

Angela’s work drives home the reality that the effects of climate change are being experienced here and now and that extreme weather events will continue to escalate unless we respond as a society and as individuals.

Her artwork (on site until August) and that of future artists on Artful Migration residencies, will point to the need for all of us to adopt more environmentally aware lifestyles. If we don’t, then all that our children will inherit of the whooper swans, Greenland white fronted geese and ospreys that migrate to the Solway will be memories, and excuses for why we failed them.

- Amy Marletta, Projects Director, Upland CIC.

See the article on the Herald's website here.