Objects from the Windermere-Leven Watershed, Cumbria

A watershed is a geographical place bounded by the flow of waters from higher ground to a lower, common body of water. The Windermere-Leven watershed is a Cumbrian landscape of stone hills scoured by the last Ice Age and softened by the waters running from the northern flows of the Langdales and the Troutbeck valleys through becks and rivers and lakes, through Grasmere, Esthwaite and Windermere, into the River Leven as it flows out to Morecambe Bay. It is an industrialised zone of sheep farming, tourism, mining, explosives, each defining the Lakes District landscape and what is considered beautiful here. A watershed, too, is a moment of change. 

For our project in 2021, the people involved, the process initiated and the objects exhibited here were melded together. Wallace and Rachel invited a few people living in the watershed to participate, people who, in some way, were catalysts in their social or professional worlds. Each person was asked to spend time by a body of water that had meaning for them, to sit, to meander, to be with the waters, whether a fast-flowing beck, a slow river, a calm or turbulent lake. The focus was on their experience, alone. 

The booklets exhibited here were written and made by Wallace, who lives by the River Leven. They are invitations, guides and gifts. Inside, the booklets are brief guides to finding a place, keeping safe, settling and staying with the flow of water. Too, there are prompts offered, specially written to each person, questions that they could consider while they are by the waters, ones that directly and indirectly call up ideas of change, climate and the future. The booklets were given as gifts, and as a further invitation to a get-together and meal with the other participants to talk over their experiences and ideas and to meet the Future Machine.

That was in 2021. In 2024, a similar form of project will take place with a different action offered, again to be on one’s own, to have time with the skies, waters and land, with a gifted booklet, before coming together. Some participants will be continuing from 2021, some will be new. 

In 2022 and 2023, Emily Fitzherbert and Rachel worked with biology students at the Lakes School, Troutbeck. Too, people living in and visiting Windermere were invited to meet the Future Machine on the eastern shore of the waters.

Wallace Heim

Find out more about when Future Machine Appears At The Windermere-Leven Waters When Summer Ends

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