World Rivers Day

Image credit Basia Irland

Welcome to the first World Rivers Day Webinar, 

I want to thank Dee from the Water Museum of Ireland, Sara from the Living Waters Museum and Eriberto and the WAMU-NET team for your support for this webinar and for promoting diversity and equity. I was born in Argentina, and as a mixed race person I wish to honour the responsible environmental stewardship that is common to indigenous people all over the world. And I want to acknowledge that climate, ecological and social injustices affect certain groups more than others, including people in developing countries and our companion species, with whom we share this planet. 

Every day I hear stories of ecological despair: water shortages could affect around five billion people worldwide by 2050, warns the UN. Wall Street is about to start trading futures contracts on its water supply, affirms Euronews. 

Caring for our planet’s precious water can take many forms and creative practices can bring about stories of reparation and growth, stories of working with others, working with water, working with nature.

We urgently need to create alternative stories to those of colonisation, patriarchy and extractive and disaster capitalism. We need stories that help us to heal and to reconnect with water, stories of care and reciprocal restoration that can empower us to defend the water and the species that live in it. 

Curating is a practice of care and it is my hope that this webinar will help to create a small space in which we can imagine new stories of connectedness and we can be reminded of old stories told anew, stories of responsibility to and for each other and nature.

It is with this in mind that I have invited Basia, Shanai, Tania and Muireann to share some of their work with us, because their works foster responsibility and care towards the environment, people and fellow species. Water as seen through their work can help us to imagine new connections, new possibilities and new stories, stories that speak about the connections and entanglements of love between people and the natural world, stories that give us anchorage and also wings to lift off into the cosmology of our collective imagination. 

By healing nature we heal ourselves, as Robin Kimmerer says, ‘ecological restoration is inseparable from cultural and spiritual restoration, and is inseparable from the spiritual responsibilities of care-giving and world-renewal.’ 

Our first speaker Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh is a multi-award winning traditional singer and musician from southwestern Ireland. She has on of the most distinctive voices, not just in traditional circles, but anywhere, says The Irish Times She will be sharing with us the story of one traditional song, which has roots in her childhood, her people and their landscape. 

Our second speaker is Basia Irland. Sheis an author, poet, sculptor, installation artist, and activist who creates international water projects. She is based in New Mexico and her work is featured in over 70 international publications, including the National Geographic. 

As ice melts, Basia brings her ice books into the water as an act of reparation, she, becoming river and giving herself to reciprocal restoration, and her books, containing seeds, like scriptures with which to become eco-literate. Over to you Basia.

Our next speaker is Shanai Matteson. She is a public artist, writer, and cultural organiser based in Minnesota, USA. She is one of the founders and Collaborative Directors of Water Bar & Public Studio, an artist-led organisation that works across the United States to serve water and increase water equity, through storytelling and creative collaboration. Over to you Shanai

Our final speaker is Tania Kovats. She is an advocate for drawing in the expanded field, as a significant tool of thinking and expression, that provides an infinite and varied means of communication. She is a Professor of Making and Drawing at Dundee University and her works are in both public and private collections in the UK and abroad, including Arts Council, Jupiter Artland, The British Council, Government Art Collection, the National Maritime Museum Greenwich, and the V&A. 

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