Creative events

THEY – a filmic art piece by Emma Critchley

The Somerset levels floods of 2013/14 left many people living semi-aquatic lives for months on end. Once familiar family homes were transformed and the levels became the subject of a story which drew attention from across the UK and around the world. Despite the overwhelming buzz of media attention, it was an experience that left many feeling isolated; caught in an otherworldly displaced space, where time stood still. The floods sparked great controversy about how and why they occurred and who was to blame for their scale and duration. Why ‘they’ let it happen and the way ‘they’ handled the situation became the subject of contentious debate and confrontation. THEY responds to stories collated from interviews of those affected; it reflects on the accounts people gave which brought to view a sense of forced adaptation to an otherworldly existence; on view yet disconnected from the outside world.

Submerged: Portraits from the Levels - a photography exhibition by David Mansell-Moulin.

Floods are both a private and public affair. They are debated vociferously within media and other public fora, and public institutions have responsibilities for their management. But the experience of flooding is also deeply private, bringing the destruction of our most personal artefacts, our photographs and memories, our homes, our security. These are times of heightened stress which tends to manifest in frustrated and highly charged contestation and confrontations between those affected and those in positions of authority.

Responding to research undertaken in Somerset following the winter storms of 2013-14, this exhibition seeks to engage with the human experience of flooding. Presented in a series of large-format colour photographic portraits, it portrays those directly affected by the floods, alongside those involved with flood management and the response. The images are accompanied by quotes from the participants reflecting experiences from different perspectives. The exhibition seeks to prompt reflection on what can be learnt from these events.

Submerged: Portraits from the Levels can be viewed as a powerpoint presentation.