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'To the river' project

We have appointed Caroline Wright as artist in residence for the River Cam. The residency will celebrate and promote the story of the river and its role in shaping the city.

Over 12 months Caroline will be researching stories, facts and unusual aspects of the river to uncover how it serves as a foundation to the city. What are our relationships to the river? How has it shaped us in terms of social, economic, geographical, historic and ecological impact?

Caroline’s research will culminate in a site-specific work of public art for the city, and will set the scene for future commissions related to the river.

The To the River website will be a repository for river-related information, and will document the progress of the project. It will include a list of useful and interesting resources, river events and research notes.

Community engagement

A key element of the project is to give local people the opportunity to creatively participate in the project.

Conversations and meetings have been held with the many and varied communities and groups associated and interested in the Cam, and their time and generosity is appreciated.

These conversations have revealed the extent to which the river is embedded in the Cambridge community.

Among the organisations and communities Caroline has engaged with is our Children and Young People’s Participation Service (ChYpPS). Caroline joined them for some of their late-summer workshops on a narrowboat, and spent time with families talking about what the river means to them. Some families thought about what was in and on the river, making some colourful drawings.

Events

Flow – September 2018

The project’s first residency event was called ‘Flow’. A small container of river water, drawn next to Baits Bite Lock, was encased inside a bright pink flotation vessel and taken upstream by volunteers to Byrons Pool, near Trumpington, where it was replaced into the river.

The volunteers carried it by a variety of water craft including rowing boat, punt, narrowboat, kayak and paddleboard. Other volunteers ran, walked, cycled or swam.

Participants received a very precious gift of a bottle of water for taking part. The weather was kind and over the course of the day 81 people, children, adults, a baby (and a dog) took part in the work. A further 430 people connected with the event in different ways, such as supporting participants, asking questions, or simply watching the progress of the cargo.

Flow was welcomed as part of the programme for a new local festival called ‘In Your Way’, which spread out across the city over a single weekend. A film will be available to watch soon.

About the artist

Caroline Wright is a visual and performance artist whose work presents perspectives through a process of recording, reconfiguring and transforming, informed by loss, value, mortality and the imperfection of memory.

Working live and through physical making, her work is collaborative and interactive, responding to attachment and personal histories.

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