I love my underwater film cameras – this is Pero’s Bridge on Narrow Quay from a puddle.
Last week I was up in Filton, recording the podcast with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, and afterwards, since I was up in that neighbourhood, I walked down through the Stoke Park Estate, and along the Frome.
Stoke Park was beautiful – completely empty on this hot, summer day, with the sounds of crickets, birdsong, ‘planes overhead, and the M32 thrumming in the distance. It’s somewhere I’ve only been once before, and I really should find out more about it, especially the strange ruins.
I have a thing about being underneath roads, so in the tunnel under the motorway, I recorded the sounds – under, and then next to it:
After Stoke Park, I went down to the Frome, starting at the weir at Broom Hill. Clambering over the sluicegate to stand on the end of the weir, I put my disposable underwater film camera into the weir, for different views of it. I love these three especially
I always love the fish in the Harbour – from spotting big fish, to the shoals of tiny fish-lets that are in the shallowest parts of the Harbour on the sunny days, flashing silver as they dart in shoals. I took this photo, which was a fantastic failure, but when I borrowed my friend Tim’s GoPro, one of my goals was to get some films.
This was a beautiful, mellow, sunny day. I’d met my friend Matt Gibson for coffee at the Underfall Yard, and our walk lasted about 2 minutes before we stopped by the western jetty and slipway by the Nova Scotia.
This one’s a shorter podcast than usual, just 9 minutes long. It’s an interview with John Raymond-Barker, who runs RB Boatbuilding in Underfall Yard at the end of the Floating Harbour. He’s one of the last links to Bristol’s long tradition of boat building, and he specialises in making Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, a type of boat that evolved in Bristol and Cardiff, to deal with the unique and treacherous conditions of the Bristol Channel, while racing to get as much lucrative piloting business as possible.
John told me more about the boats, and his work, and I hope you enjoy it. If you want to know more about RB Boatbuilding, visit his website, which includes a page about the Pilot Cutters – and there’s lots of information about the Underfall Yard, where he’s based.
I got to scramble around a Pilot Cutter while it’s being built, and you can see those photos here (click on the picture to access the slideshow)
On Tuesday I was over in St Werburghs, and I went home via Mina Road Park, which always fascinates me. From the road it looks like a pretty nondescript urban park, albeit with the incredible iron urinal – but it has a river running through it, Horfield Brook.
It’s a short stretch, but it’s been looked after, with viewing platforms, planting and decorative bridges. At the north-west corner of the park it disappears into the old factory site, and there’s a pair of concrete slabs in the water, I guess to control the flow a little, and it sounds like this:
This week’s Avon Story is a walk, with artist Nikki Pugh.
Nikki’s work investigates how we perceive, move through and interact with our surroundings. Her work combines a mixture of techniques from different disciplines, including sculpture, walking, playfulness and use of technology. Often it also includes other people getting involved in some way.
We walked down the River Avon together, watching the the tide change and discussing her recent projects. These include making landscape-reactive robots at the Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed; exploring the Duddon Valley in the Lake District with Lancaster University and the Wordsworth Trust; and Orrery for Landscape, Sinew and Serendipity, a sculptural object that uses GPS and weather data to power an alternative – mechanical – method of visualising long distance bike rides.
Along the way we got distracted by the river, and stopped take a lot of photos and videos of the river, with a theme of “brown”!
Click on Nikki’s website to find out more about her work, including the projects we talked about, as well as commission some work, or invite her on a walk by a river. You can also follow her twitter and flickr.
You can follow our walk on my map:
I often walk along the River and the Harbour with my partner – it’s not the quickest way to town from home, but it’s a diversion to take photos and enjoy the city, and it usually adds layers of interest and fun to days that would otherwise be about chores… except sometimes it doesn’t.
This week I went for a walk with Nikki Pugh, who makes really fantastic interactive art. We walked very slowly down the Chocolate Path, looking at the clouds of silt under the surface of the river, and the tide changing from coming in to sitting still at the change point, to watching what happens in the hour after the highest tide.
I also made a couple of small, quiet videos, of how the water was reacting before and after Vauxhall Bridge:
For this Avon Story, I travelled 20 miles outside of Bristol, to find out about the railway line that runs up the Avon Gorge to Pill and the Royal Portbury Dock, and used to continue on to Portishead, on the Bristol Channel.
Dave Chillistone of the Portishead Railway Group told me about how the issues that made the Avon so difficult for shipping in Victorian times resulted in the railway being built, the impact on the town, why it was closed, and why the PRG are campaigning for it to be re-opened.
Dave took me for a walk around the key places we talked about, and you can follow that walk, with photos of where we stopped, on this map – and scroll down for more photos, and lots more information about Portishead, the railway, the PRG and the plans for the railway’s return.
You can download the podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up to the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes, to make sure you hear all the future stories. Make sure you’re also following on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the river.