Treading water

TREADING WATER – a perambulatory poem in Otterspool Park, Liverpool: July 12 2009 1pm

 This poem-performance has been commissioned by Gaia Project and Living at the Edge for HIGH TIDE – an Environment Agency-funded project which is bringing together ten UK based multi-media artists to interpret and explore the theme high tide, in collaboration with Dr Jason Kirby (Liverpool John Moores University) and Prof Philip Woodworth adviser to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool).

 Treading Water will explore the prehistory, geology, human and natural history of Otterspool Park in order to imagine distant times, images and stories. Staged as a series of posts throughout the park, the piece will unfold as a poem sequence accompanied by dramatic and visual interventions.

 Otterspool’s history, like Liverpool , has been shaped by water. Its stream was formed by melting glaciers 18,000 years ago which carved a path through red sandstone: the remains of ancient sand dunes. Known as Otirpul in medieval times it was originally a tidal creek, which may have been a Viking landing stage in the tenth century, and was famed for the quality of its fishing and abundance of otters. Later on the creek was used to drive watermills and until the 1930s an old fisherman’s cottage still stood on the banks of the Mersey. The astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks (1618-1641) was born and died here in the now demolished Jericho Lodge. He was a major figure in early British Astronomy and the first person to correctly predict and observe the transit of Venus across the Sun. He later began making the first ever tidal measurements to assist his study of the moon’s orbit.

 The poem will attempt to come to terms with Horrocks’ achievements and consider their relevance to our contemporary view of nature. Creating this imaginative space will crucially enable a confrontation with the future of the park, and, by extension, the future of Liverpool and beyond in the context of climate change.

 Check out the High Tide wiki at:

 Otterspool Park on Google Maps:

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