The Journey explores human interaction with water from the river’s perspective – what it sees, how it has been harnessed by us, and the warning it brings to us if we do not change our relationship with water to be one of co-existence instead of dominance. It is a collaboration between Ruth Stringer, a designer based in Cardiff, Sara Lewis, a writer in Aberdare, and Vikram Iyengar, a dancer and choreographer from Calcutta.
The idea for this piece came as a response to the flooding which occurred in the Rhondda Cynon Taf region of South Wales in early 2020. The floodwaters had a devastating impact on the local community, the worst the area has seen in 40 years. And yet climate change indicates that we will see and increase in such natural disasters in the Global North in the coming years, whilst regions in the Global South already deal with such events with greater frequency.
In this first stage of the project, we have been researching Wales’ relationship with its waterways – its history of harnessing the power of the river during the Industrial Revolution, and how river courses have been altered to allow for urban development. We have compared this to the journey of the Ganges in India, specifically Calcutta and its confluence with the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the Sundarbans delta.
We aim to develop a site-specific project in Rhondda Cynon Taf which connects the region performatively with East India and other areas of the globe who experience a fragile relationship with their waterways. We wish to connect on both a spiritual and physical level with our rivers: our dependence on water for our survival, the female energy that is connected with the river, and how she shapes and nurtures the life around her.
We envision a performance that is framed around the unique pattern of the water cycle itself: that a drop of rain which falls in the mountains of Wales can travel to the delta of the Ganges before returning years later. Many scientists have explored the concept that water holds memory: what would the river tell us of her life and all that she has seen, if only we could listen to her?
We created a sharing room on Mozilla Hubs of our research so far. If you're on a desktop, you can take a look around here.
For more details about Sara's writings, go to www.saralewis.cymru
Further info on Vikram's practice can be found at www.vikramiyengar.in
The development for this project has been made possible thanks to funding from The Arts Council of Wales Stabilisation Fund.