Today is World Wetlands Day (2nd February 2018) and Waveney & Blyth Arts is pleased to launch its spring conference – A River Runs Through It, taking place on Wednesday 25th April 2018. Organiser, Melinda Appleby, shares some thoughts on the inspiration of rivers.
“I live on a small inconsequential Suffolk river – the Dove. I like the fact that it moves quietly and unobserved through the landscape, a channel hiding among field boundaries. It was not always so; rivers brought people from the North Sea, exploring, looking for food, clean water and shelter. Their map of the countryside would be like the tree, spreading out from a central spine and feeling its way into places, branching and sub-dividing.
Today our maps are focussed on transport corridors of train and car. We cross and recross rivers, often unnoticed until they flood. From the road, the Dove is almost invisible as it disappears into a poplar wood, then through a dense tangle of hedge. I have seen water voles here – plump potterers by the stream side, chewing on mint leaves and making their burrows just above riverline. Once, where the river slips behind the gardens, creeping through a tangle of alder and hazel, we saw a vole swimming with two young beside her.
After the heavy rains of recent weeks, the river now roars over the concrete lip of the water splash and plunges down past the allotments, passing the last of winter’s bulrushes, tugged untidily by the wind. The Dove builds in volume, crossing the A140 unseen, until it emerges in Eye. From there it passes through Hoxne, and under the bridge where King Edmund reputedly hid from the Danish invaders, being betrayed by the glint of the sun on his spurs and so brutally slaughtered. A last mile or two and the Dove slips into the river Waveney, the borderland river that rises in Redgrave Fen and flows east to the North Sea.
The river’s curve reshapes man’s linear landscape, it draws us in, provides a moment of reflection, tempts and betrays, lures and overwhelms us.”
All this and more will be explored at our conference.
River landscapes are the focus for Waveney & Blyth Arts; the two river valleys define our micro-region and are the location for our programme of walks and workshops, and for a network of arts venues, festivals and individual arts practitioners.
What better subject for a spring conference than the inspiration provided by our rivers?
One of our keynote speakers, writer Charles Rangeley-Wilson, sums it up in his Forward to the Little Toller reprint of H.E. Bates book, Down the River (2014):
Rivers lend themselves to being thought and written about. Thought flows like a river. As does language. The river, memory and the impulse to write, the sounds and rhythms of words and water, these things merge time and again across the centuries to become the poetry and prose of rivers, flowing from Babylon to Devon. But so much fine writing is impelled not just because of a sympathy between the forms and expressions of thought and water. A river speaks, too. It has character. And a river is the most animate part of a landscape.”
The conference on Wednesday 25th April 2018 will be held at the Ivy House Country Hotel, Oulton Broad NR33 8HY. More details of the programme and booking information will be posted on our website – see Conferences under the Activities tab.
BUT if you can’t wait and want to be inspired by the river check out this video on our Facebook page – amazing photos of the river Waveney from Bungay Camera Club with a soundtrack by Mike Challis from his sound hide at our Sculpture Trail a few years ago.