Last week I was invited to be a part of an 'Art and Science Expedition', run by Cape Farewell on behalf of the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay project: "a two-day short, rural and urban expedition around Swansea that [brought] emerging art and design students into dialogue with scientists and leading scientific research in order to stimulate a creative response."
Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I was only able to make the second day of the expedition, which began at the Mission Gallery with a talk on 'Life under water in Swansea Bay' by the biologist Ian Horsfall. Following this intriguing look at the ecosystem of the Severn Sea (or 'Bristol Channel', for those of you of an Anglo- disposition), we braved the biting winds of the bay to begin the expedition proper, with Robin Campbell and Nigel Jenkins as our guides. After Robin and Nigel's psychogeographic tour of the city's docklands, our group took a trip along the beach to the visit the fish breeding facilities at Swansea University, with a stop-off along the way at the Vetch Veg project on the site of Swansea City FC's now-demolished former home.
Like many, I initially had reservations about the tidal lagoon project. I'm still unsure if it would be a positive development for the bay, both from an environmental and aesthetic point of view, but I am now leaning towards the opinion that this would be a very positive development for the city of Swansea. Too often in Swansea are we unsure whether the ship on the horizon is arriving or leaving (see: Alsop's Ty Llên, SA1, the 'Yes' vote for the Senedd, etc., etc.), but the air of positivity, conviction and general excitement that surrounds this project suggests that maybe, just maybe, this isn't just another false dawn.
Following a fascinating tour of Swansea Uni's biology department (and after getting a bit snap-happy in the Natural History room), it was time for us to return to the Mission Gallery for coffee, tea and an informal poetry reading from Nigel and me. Luckily, the sound of my phone buzzing away in my coat pocket across the room only interrupted my reading and not Nigel's (it's new, and I thought I had turned it off).
And so, with the final remarks and reflections offering further food for thought, the two-day expedition drew to a close. I fear that work commitments will stop me from becoming further involved in this meeting of science and art, which is a huge shame from a personal point of view. However, I will be keeping an intrigued eye on the development of the project, hoping that it's the bow we're squinting towards this time, not the stern.