Mushrooms with their roots entangled

Lukus Robbins - 'Mycelium'.  Image designed by Jessica Noble

Introducing our Spring Residency Artists 2021

Posted on Thu 18 Feb 2021

Following an open call for our Spring Residencies programme, we’re delighted to announce the two Bristol-based artists who will develop ideas exploring environmental emergencies, technology and possible futures.

Watershed's Spring Residencies have a research focus and offer an opportunity to think and share ideas with a community of peers at the Pervasive Media Studio, receive technical and critical support plus funding. We were particularly interested in ideas interrogating how we think about systems of growth and progress, as we believe creativity can play a vital role in reimagining existing constructs. From soil regeneration and interspecies collaboration to the practice of hydroponics, these projects will focus on possible futures with and without soil.

Say hello to the latest residents:

First up is Lukus Robbins who will research a series of artistic interventions exploring the symbiotic ecosystems within soil. Excited by naturally occurring phenomena such as Aspergillus Tubingensis, a fungi that breaks down plastic, Lukus will delve into roots, fungus, bacteria, algae and insects. Focussing on how systems within the natural world can be harnessed to reverse human impact, his work gives hope of a sustainable future that we can collectively cultivate.

Lukus says:

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to further research soil regeneration and interspecies collaboration in the face of the climate breakdown. Soil has often been overlooked in 'mainstream' environmental conversations but is now being studied as fundamental to the future of our existence. Through this residency, I hope to connect with soil experts, community leaders, creative technologists, storytellers and environmental scientists to develop inspiring ways to engage with, understand and harness the world beneath our feet."

Our second recipient is Katy Connor who will develop a speculative arts project exploring the practice of hydroponics: the art of growing plants in a chemical solution, without the use of soil. Katy plans to construct and reimagine a living hydroponic system, that will offer audiences a fresh way of engaging creatively with our environment.

Katy says:

"I'm excited to be developing this project with support from the Pervasive Media Studio. The idea grew from my residency at BrisSynBio where I was exposed to the ways in which synthetic biologists wish to re-engineer aspects of nature. This, together with my experience of lockdown at my Bristol allotment, led me to reflect upon the narratives surrounding synthetic biology, soil degradation, use of finite resources and the precarity of fresh food in urban environments. Through this residency, I will construct an experimental hydroponic system and invite audiences to co-explore the relationship between nature and technology, and the value of hydroponics as both an ecological and artistic practice."

Victoria Tillotson, Watershed's Talent Development Lead, says:

"We're delighted to support Lukus and Katy through Watershed's Spring Residency programme this year. Championing ideas that examine the relationship between our planet, our systems and our possible futures, has never been more important. We're particularly excited by their overlaps and oppositions in relation to soil, and delighted that community engagement and conversation are central to both their practices. We cannot wait to see how their work unfolds."

Both residencies will run between March - May 2021. The artists will share their progress via blogs and conversations, and we'll host a free public showcase event later in Spring. There will be lots of opportunities to get involved - so watch this space!