Cartographic Interventions. A Commission by Future Places Centre, Lancaster University

Collagraph print — Morecambe Bay

Inspiration

Water patterns in the Bay have long been an interest to me. Fascinating channels wend their way out to sea, created by the rivers that empty into the estuary and the power of the tides moving banks, shifting sand and forming channels. These beautiful flowing shapes reflecting the sky are constantly changing.

Looking over to Arnside Knott from Grange over Sands (image copyright James Lester)
Grange over Sands salt marsh
Image copyright James Lester

Discoveries

Observations

Creeks and gullies. Exploring shapes and forms. The water reflects the light of the sky and when I visited Grange over Sands on a bright cloudy day, at high tide, the gullies were full and created strong shapes, connecting to the sky making abstract forms.

Research, Research, Research

Recordings of states of tide. Tidal Data and Tidal Curves

EasyTide predictions
Monoprints using tidal curves to represent life cycles and actual materials collected on site

Collecting Materials — life forms of the Bay

I was looking for links to tidal movments and change in the Bay. There is a significant connection with Spartina Anglica ( Cord Grass), the movement of the main river channels and developing salt marsh. I collected the remnants of dead salt marsh grasses with their old seed heads attached. Possibly these are the Cord grass which took over large areas of salt marsh in the a

Monoprints -layers show changing channels

Changing channels

I had identified the the Bay as an area shaped by the water as something I wanted to investigate. I originally thought of Admiralty charts to research the depths and details of the Bay but current Admiralty charts do not show detail of the northern area, in which I am interested. Ordnance Survey provide some channel information though it is difficult to know how up to date they are. I am looking for further charts which might help and will plot the course of movement of the Kent channel with the information I have along a timeline.

Map published in 1781
Collagraph Map — Embossed print
Collagraph plate to create maps of the Bay

Exploring changing shapes of water

I wanted to create images showing the Bay with the tide out and when the tide was in. It is interesting to see how the shapes of the water change and it is change which is a focus of my investigations. I made a collagraph plate out of card and first took a blind print (embossed) image before inking the plate, firstly to show the banks when the tide is out then covering with blue ink to show the tide in. I like this way of physically making my own tides and changing a view.

‘Quick’ collagraph prints
There are signs of erosion along the Grange/Kents Bank salt marsh, which is receding
Photo taken 14 years ago (2006?) — the “beach” at Grange over Sands (see photo for credits)
I took this photo in March 2021 It’s possibly not quite the same angle as above, but it provides some insight into the receding salt marsh. Using the height of the metal posts to measure the depth of the salt marsh as a ratio.
Sketches at Grange over Sands — Watercolour

Life on the Bay

The Kent Estuary is of national and international conservation importance and forms part of the Morecambe Bay SSSI, SAC, SPA and Ramsar site

Making connections

I am interested in the notion that actions (natural and man-made) have consequences and that erosion and accretion in the Kent estuary is an ongoing cycle influened by and influencing other cycles. Patterns are linked. Events have relationships. It is complex and other factors are involved such as climate change and man’s interventions, such as building the railway, the viaduct and land reclamation.

combining influences using symbols— moon, erosion, plant life

Developing Ideas

Transferring Data to Images to create a Narrative

Mapping the River Kent channels

Creating stencils for printmaking
Mono printing using ‘ghost’ print techniques
Collagraph ‘Blind’ print/ Embossed Print.
Collagraph plate creating texture and a ‘map’ of salt marsh changes
Spartina starts to ‘invade’ at Grange over Sands, which had previously enjoyed a beach.
Using collected vegetation from the salt marsh as a record of life forms
Embossed shapes in the panel before mono printing with colour
Birds on the move and wading in their feeding habitats.
First Stage — Collagraph and Embossing onto damped paper
Keeping order — Making sure the channels were printed in sequence of time and matching the dates to the maps. It created a nice collection of first prints using the stencils before taking a ghost print in the finished panel.
Silverdale with its salt Marsh on the right — Panel 1
Stencils used for bird imagery
four hangings including the two prototypes

I am an Artist based in the South Lakes and enjoy working with a range of media including print making. karenlester.com