Disturb_ance is a continuation of my working practice of using narrative film, costume and installation to respond to a site or situation. Undertaking comprehensive research of a specific context is intrinsic to my practice and I have extensive experience of operating within a range of environments and communities. The characterizations, costumes and props I create are a way of interpreting textiles within a socio-political framework, and are utilized to expose existing, often hidden narratives and to create new ones.
In this piece, themes of conflict, invasiveness, toxicity and displacement are enacted through the costuming and performances of four hybrid anthropomorphic forms: The Aqua Bird, The White Poisoner, The Pond Foliate, and The Mussel Crab. Each character has its own distinct identity and aesthetic, the inspiration for which is drawn from urban mythology, folkloric seasonal festivals, and popular culture as well as the history and context of the Wetlands site itself.
Disturb_ance explores the often hidden struggles for habitat, food and breeding opportunities amongst co-existing flora and fauna species and the potential conflicts that arise from the incompatibility of some. It aims to highlight the importance of habitat management as well as drawing attention to some of the negative human interventions that inevitably impact on an ecosystem. Examples that are explored in this work include the introduction of invasive aquatic plants and the widespread use of contaminants and pollutants all of which compromise the quality of wetland habitats and water channels..
As the metaphorical battle between ‘good and evil plays out, there is a sense of claustrophobia and forboding;
What will the be the consequences if destructive forces remain unchecked?
I became interested in the mythology surrounding certain invasive and toxic plants that flourish on site. Hemlock Water Dropwort is potentially fatal if ingested explored ideas around plant toxicity and the Sardonic grin phenomenon, (a ‘rictus’ grin the poison produces in the victim) The White Poisoner bacame a metaphor for evil, it heralds the arrival of an impending dystopia were destructive forces to remain unchecked.
Wetlands Unravelled at the
London Wetlands Centre
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copywrite Sharon McElroy 2021