Five years of interest in the Somerset Levels and Moors and over a year of ideas and conversations about how to make the project happening is the background of The Land of the Summer People project.
During this time, I have been looking at the Levels and Moors from different perspectives researching around the historical archives including art, archaeology, geology, biology, hydrology, trying to empathy with the complex relationship of people, land and water in this area. While my interest in Somerset was growing, the last severe winter flooding occurred, which enforced even more what at that time was the conceptual base for this project.
Then I started visiting more Somerset to be present in the conversations happening out there as well as experiencing the landscape which meanwhile ended up being transformed in an art project called some:when. This project is a public art project in collaboration with the artist Jethro Brice together with individuals and community groups affected by the floods which is currently happening.
It is important for me how The Land of the Summer People project ideas have been shifted by the learning about the area, how experience have shaped what is vital in the research of this project, specially even more considering this project as an art-science collaborative approach. Since the last winter flooding in 2014, actions have been taking place, making even more relevant the exchange of knowledge, specially looking at the relationship between archival history and living memory, are decisions in the area influenced by (living) memory? Would it be important to look at history in order to learn from previous local inhabitants and combine their methods with the way we live nowadays? Would it be important to change approaches in local people’s lives to be more resilience about future extreme weather events? Could art play a role in the discourse, thinking of art as a language that enables reflection and analysis?
Seila Fernández Arconada