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Meet our Artist in Residence, Laura Hopes


24th September 2019

We’re delighted to welcome local artist, Laura Hopes, as our Artist in Residence here at the NMA. In our latest blog, written by Laura herself, find out all about her plans over the coming months as we head towards Mayflower 2020.

During the period that I am artist in residence at the National Marine Aquarium, I am hoping to research and make work that references the idea of the ‘Sounding’ the Sound – testing the depths, and an exploration of the sounds within.

On our doorstep sits the Atlantic: gateway to all the World’s joined oceans and seas and home to an abundance of lifeforms; a liquid archive of history and witness to many arrivals, transits and departures.

Coming into the 400th anniversary year of the story of the sailing of the Mayflower, many of the key impacts of that voyage are themes still being felt globally today. Journeys, new lands and species and the importance of the preservation of environments and the sustainability of ways of life are echoed across the centuries over and over again.

These issues are mirrored in ocean science. In a time of climate change, we are seeing new fish and marine mammals enter these waters that have never roamed as far north. We are learning the consequences of plastic in these environments.

We are beginning to recognise the powerful impact of our actions, of what happens because of what we consume and what happens to our waste and the effects of these actions on people, plants, animals and the environment.

How we make sense of this and then how we learn a more sustainable way of living are the questions I am interested in asking. I am an artist mainly working with moving image and sound. My work focusses upon the idea that we inhabit a geological era called the ‘Anthropocene’; not the Jurassic or Holocene era but a new one where the Earth we stand upon and the seas surrounding it are changed not by ice or meteors but by mankind’s (Anthropos) activities. Carbon layers from the chimneys and engines of the Industrial Revolution, radioactive materials from the first nuclear tests and plastics embedded in Arctic ices are all signs of our impact upon the Earth and how we’re altering it.

I want to look at these ideas inside the World’s ‘One Ocean’, an underwater view that perhaps we don’t normally consider, and of investigating many ways of knowing and learning to live in this era.

It seems to me that many communities, animals and plants already know how to live sustainably, and I hope, in this project, to explore some of these stories through listening. I will begin by listening to underwater stories, literally, by placing microphones in this realm, and listening to those experts who work with the plants, animals and organisms in this environment. Relating animal and plant stories to those of humans, journeys will be traced into, under and across the Atlantic. With the support of the National Marine Aquarium, Take A Part and Plymouth University’s Marine Institute, I will gather sounds of the Sound to create a visual and aural picture of this territory and some of the stories it contains.

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