Saturday 27 October 2018

Totnes Arts Trail 'Clear Water' with Ed Hill

Down the Drain


Hello, my name is Ed Hill - the artist behind this art installation called ‘Down the Drain’. I joined the ‘Transition Town Totnes Arts Network’ a month ago with the aim to involve myself more in environmental issues.
After the river clean

The Stimuli
My starting point was a feeling of discontent concerning the untreated pollution that goes down storm drains. I see the evidence when I walk along the river and go wild swimming. I would have expected it to be teaming with fish, birds and insects, but instead there were plastic bags, shopping trolley’s and car tyres – and this in the rural South Hams a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty! I have also heard that it is not the best idea to swim in the river just after it has rained.

The Creation
With all this in my mind, I chose the image of a drain to form the focal point of my work. The bottle symbolises the contaminants going down. I deliberately used a blank bottle, as this could be anything, and I invite you to write on the bottle what it could be.
The vortex of water depicts the flowing of water, and the way plastic bags are found tangled around branches, swirling in the eddies. To make a direct link with the issue at hand I used plastic from my river. The river clean lasted 30 minutes, and I removed; a shopping trolley; a shopping basket; lots of plastic bags; a big bundle of netting; barbed wire and a big rug of material. To finish the work, I installed a few of the aquatic animals I have sculpted.
 The fish swimming in the vortex

The Reflection
I feel I have made a piece of work that tells a story. It is my hope that it is suggestive enough to allow peoples’ imaginations to run. I would have liked other objects above the drain to convey the range of sources, but there are too many. So, I thought a collective process would be better.
I have enjoyed the process as it has given me an opportunity to devote time to the issue and reflect on my behaviour regarding contaminants. For example, when I go wild swimming in rivers I don’t usually go collecting rubbish, but doing the river clean felt surprisingly rewarding and empowering to think that I can, in my own small way make a difference. I am currently planning another river clean over a longer period inviting a couple of friends to join me.

Ed Hill is a metal artist who recycles cutlery and kitchen utensils from St. Luke’s Charity Shop and transforms them into animal sculptures. He has a workshop where he lives in Ermington near Ivybridge. He is currently preparing for a four month long exhibition at RHS Rosemoor, Torrington starting in November. You may also have seen his work at Delamore Arts in Cornwood, where he hopes to exhibit again next year in May.