Approaching Estate: methodologies for practices of site and place

Wednesday 10 April - Friday 12 April 2019

I will be taking part in Approaching Estate, a sensingsite event organised by Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and held at Furherfield Commons, Finsbury Park. I’ll be speaking from 2pm on Wednesday 10 April. For the full programme and abstracts please see HERE. I will mainly discuss research-led project IROPI and my PhD research.


‘Approaching Estate is a four-day encounter with the specificities of site, place and landscape as contexts for artistic and other creative enquiry.

The event will consist of interlinking presentations, field performances, films and discussions gathering together a range of artistic, interdisciplinary and collaborative practices. These include experimental cartographies, situated practices, interfaith cultural exchange and creative critiques of land ownership and management.

We are using an expanded idea of estate to encompass the various ways in which space is configured, managed, and conceptualised as place, an approach which involves a broad community of interests and rights.

Approaching Estate is concerned with examining the ethics and efficacy of methodologies of engagement; the protocols and terms of socially-engaged practices; the agency and possibilities afforded by creative practices; the beneficiaries and benefits of the work produced; meaningful and sustainable processes of collaboration.

The core ethos of Approaching Estate is that critical research arises from shared processes of exchange, with the aim of setting agendas for future practice.’

Exposing Imperceptible

Monday 11th March 2018, 18:30 - 21:00

I am speaking at this event hosted by Art Action UK at Deptford X, alongside artists Gabriella Hirst and Yoi Kawakubo

‘Following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, how are artists responding to altered social and physical realities?

It has been 8 years since the triple disaster hit Japan, on 11th March 2011. Reflecting on the global impact of this disaster, Art Action UK is holding a discussion event at Deptford X Project Space.

AAUK has invited a panel of speakers, including Yoi Kawakubo, Gabriella Hirst and Warren Harper, to discuss the diverse ways in which artists are confronting global socio-political issues relating to the disaster in Fukushima. Spotlighting connections beyond Japan and UK, the event addresses how artists contribute to discourses around the nuclear. In a cultural environment that obscures the long-term implications of the nuclear Anthropocene, how do artists visualise the unseeable? What is the role of art when confronting such a huge scale disaster?’

For more information and tickets see HERE

Nuclear Culture Research Symposium


The Nuclear Culture Research Symposium presents new artistic and curatorial practice based research in nuclear culture. 

The Symposium will investigate theoretical ideas and artistic practices concerned with radiological deep time from nuclear landscapes of energy, research, contamination, mining, testing and geological storage facilities. The session will focus on a forensic material analysis, rethinking nuclear spaces, the challenges of nuclear heritage, and the lived experience of nuclear environments.

For more information and the full programme please see HERE

Curated by Ele Carpenter and Warren Harper.

The Nuclear Culture Research Symposium is generously supported by the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership. In partnership with Arts Catalyst, Art Action UKMFA Curating and MARs Department of Art, Goldsmiths University of London.

MARs Session: Radiological Deep Time

Blackwater Estuary, Burnham on Crouch and District Museum, UK

Blackwater Estuary, Burnham on Crouch and District Museum, UK

Research Student Prep Session One - 26 Oct, 3-5pm
Research Student Prep Session Two - 2 Nov, 3-5pm
Research Student Prep Session Three - 23 Nov, 3-5pm

Friday 30th November, 10.30 – 6pm
Saturday 1st December, 10.30 - 2.30pm

Goldsmiths University of London

The Nuclear Culture Symposium brings together researchers in nuclear culture from the Goldsmiths Art Department MARS doctoral research programme and members of the Nuclear Culture Research Group to for two days of sharing knowledge and practice, mentoring and critical feedback. Artist and Curatorial researchers will share their artistic nuclear practices in an interdisciplinary environment with scholars and practitioners from across the arts and the nuclear sector.

This workshop will investigate theoretical ideas and artistic practices concerned with radiological deep time. From nuclear materiality and forensics, landscapes of mining, test sites, and waste storage sites. The session will focus on the challenges of decolonising the nuclear, rethinking nuclear landscapes at home, and the mythologies of distant contamination and mining.

Presentations include: Paul Thompson, The Application of Nuclear Forensics to Nuclear Material; Philip Greatorex, Sellafield Cultural Heritage; Leila Dawney, Fade to white: On endurance, care and the micropolitics of abandonment in a decommissioning nuclear town. PhD Research Students: Andy Weir, Warren Harper, Bridget Kennedy, Jess Holtaway, Grit Ruhland. Nuclear Culture Artists: David Griffiths, Yelena Popova, Hector Dyer. New projects by Gabriella Hirst and Wesley Perriman. Helen Grove White will report back from her S-Air Residency at S-Air in Japan, November 2018. Respondents: Ami Clarke, Ele Carpenter, Gair Dunlop, Nicola Triscott, Robert Williams, Louise K Wilson.

Organised by Ele Carpenter with PhD researchers Warren Harper, Bridget Kennedy and Andy Weir.

Visual Artist Pieter Fannes will make a visual report of the event.

The event is supported by CHASE, and is open anyone researching nuclear culture, and CHASE researchers.

The event is now fully booked but you can join the waiting list HERE

CHASE AHRC Studentship at Goldsmiths

Last Thursday I received the exciting news that I have been offered a fully funded CHASE AHRC studentship for my PhD! From September 2018 I will be PhD research student at Goldsmiths Art Department where my practice-based curatorial research project will investigate the relationship between the nuclear landscape of the Blackwater Estuary, home to the Bradwell Nuclear Power Station, and its communities and technologies. I will be part of the Nuclear Culture Research Group (NCRG), an interdisciplinary group of artists, curators and scholars in the nuclear arts and humanities within and connected through Goldsmiths and The Arts Catalyst; for more information check out the NCRG website: HERE

Throughout my research I will be posting more regularly here on my website as well as through the IROPI project website.


IROPI Fieldwork

IROPI carries out fieldwork to inform its current enquiry around the Blackwater Estuary. This enables critical engagement with the context around the estuary through artistic and curatorial practice, using artistic and curatorial research as a method of enquiry. It will encourage deeper understandings of the humans and non-humans, historical sites and important ecologies within the area; and how the past, present, and proposed futures of the nuclear industry may impact upon and influence these complex relationships. 

Please get in touch for further information.


Kota Takeuchi: AFTER AIR Series

Last Summer Kota Takeuchi took part in a residency at Arts Catalyst, in collaboration with S-AIR. Today he will be speaking about this at the SIAF Lounge, in Sapporo. To reciprocate the exchange James and I have been staying in Sapporo for the last month, with various study trips across Hokkaido. Tomorrow at Tenjinyama Art Studio we'll be talking about our time here and the research we have conducted; we're also showing some of our research in the gallery space. Events on both days start at 3pm, please see the links below for more information.


Institute for the Recognition of Peripheral Interests (IROPI)

Information on the so-called ‘imperative reasons of overriding public interest’ is thin on the ground, and ambiguous at best. It was adopted in the National Policy Statement for Nuclear Energy (EN-6) by Parliament in the UK in 2011. It is based on the national need for nuclear energy and allows for adverse public opinion towards projects affecting the environment or communities on the periphery - be they ecological, economic, political or social - to be bypassed. The Institute for the Recognition of Peripheral Interests seeks to make the periphery visible, suitably appropriating the acronym that legitimises the marginalisation of peripheral communities - IROPI.

IROPI will produce and commission artwork, writing, events, study visits and workshops. Our research will begin with the peripheral communities and ecologies affected by the nuclear industry and its legacy.

Geothermal activites

Today we partook in a popular Japanese pastime, visiting an onsen, or natural hot spring. Marukoma Onsen is by Lake Shikotsu, south of Sapporo city, S-AIR's director Hisashi Shibata took a group of us. In the men’s area at Marukoma (they are separated by gender) there are three indoor baths and two outside: one sat atop a decking looking over the impressive view of the lake and mountains; the other is down by the lake, separated from it by a wall of rocks. The latter shares the same water level as its neighbour, rising and falling with it according to the seasons.

The water that serves the baths comes from geothermally heated groundwater, which is pushed up from deep underground and breaches the earth’s crust. Japan has the world’s third largest reserves of geothermal resources and, as of 2015, only has 2.2% of this capacity installed and utilised for the production of electricity. There are of course barriers that prohibit or make the increase in this capacity problematic. Many onsen are predominantly situated within natural parks and have cultural and spiritual significance. They are also a crucial part of Japan’s tourism industry. 

The mineral composition of the water is believed to have healing powers, which varies across Japan and therefore so does the different ailments it is said to be able to treat. When in Toyotomi we met a woman who came all the way from Sweden to spend time in the onsen there. She went three times a day for three weeks in order to treat her eczema. That hot spring was very different from what we experienced by Lake Shikotsu, it was cooler, slick to the touch with a crude oil aroma. 

We were told that the owner of the Marukoma Onsen, and the hotel in which it sits, is from Fukushima. Traditional crafts from Fukushima prefecture hang from the lobby next to the doll set celebrating the approaching Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, on 3 March. Local newspapers from the area are folded neatly in the newspaper stand by the reception desk. Unsurprisingly many reports one reads are in relation to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant from back in March 2011.

At once there are signs pointing to the volatile and costly business - environmentally or otherwise - of nuclear power as well as the activities that bubble up from the earth’s surface, glimpsing the possibilities of other forms of energy production that also point to new problems.  

First days in Hokkaido

I am sitting in the kitchen of our apartment in Tenjinyama Art Studio, Sapporo, listening to Ainu vocal ensemble Marewrew; attempting to learn about another aspect of the rich cultural and historical landscape of Hokkaido. We have only been here for a couple of days and it's been intense, insightful and extremely rewarding. 

On Tuesday morning we took a five hour coach journey along the eastern coast from Sapporo to Toyotomi in rural Hokkaido, where we stayed with dairy farmer and activist Kuse Shigetsugu. There we met with members of his community opposed to the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) in nearby Horonobe, which is one site in Japan where experiments are underway to find solutions to the 'disposal' of Japan's high level nuclear waste (HLW). After spending the night we were given a tour of the Horonobe Underground Research Laboratory by a staff member of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, a stark contrast from Kuse's way of life. Kuse picked us up from the URL and we returned to his farm shop, where his daughter made us mozzarella and tomatoes on toast, the mozzarella being from the cows on the farm. 

We were able to grasp during this short trip, if only momentarily, the predicament of those on the periphery whose lives are impacted by nuclear power and its legacy. In addition to working tirelessly on his farm and his activities against the Horonobe Underground Research Centre, Kuse accommodates for children affected by the Fukushima disaster: 'I felt half-dead, only half-dead, so there was still something more I could do'.*

James and I will have a research blog up soon where we will be regularly posting what we've found and how things are developing.  


*paraphrased comment Kuse made in his shop.

Research in Sapporo, Japan, on Nuclear Power and Alternative Energies

James Ravinet and I have been selected for a research programme in Japan organised in collaboration with Arts Catalyst and S-AIR (Sapporo), to research nuclear power and alternative energies; we will be there from mid-February to mid-March. This will inform our current project on nuclear culture, the Blackwater Estuary and the complex issues around history, heritage, ecology as well as the geo-politics of energy production, consumption and subsequent ‘disposal’.

Our trip has been supported by the Arts Council England's Artists' International Development Fund and the Agency of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.

More information will follow soon...