University of Nottingham

A Map of Alkborough Flats and the Humber Estuary to explore the processes impacting upon the decision to establish a Managed Realignment Site (2012)

The commission

This work was commissioned by the AHRC Landscape and Environment Programme as part of the Impact Fellowship. It directly connects to the commissioned soundwork Warplands by Professor Mike Pearson (Aberystwyth University), and both Simon and Mike appear in the AHRC commissioned film Imagining Change: Coastal Conversations

Humber drawing Humber Drawing 

The artwork

Produced with the purpose of gaining an insight into the dynamic of the natural systems at work at Alkborough, North Lincolnshire, the map explores the conditions that drove the decision to realign the 440 hectare site as part of the Humber Shoreline Management Plan through the cutting of a breach in the flood bank in the autumn of 2006. One of the largest flood storage schemes in Europe, Alkborough Flats is now managed to encourage biodiversity and the development of a variety of different habitats including inter-tidal mudflats, fresh and salt-water reed beds as well as wet and dry grassland. The new wetland habitat has dramatically changed the landscape in recent years.

The work draws on information from site visits, contemporary and historical maps, Environment Agency reports, LIDAR data, and engineering drawings. 'Julian's Bower', the turf labyrinth at Alkborough, forms a base layer to the work. Beginning with contours, Simon then added the surveyed depths of the estuary, basic transport infrastructure, drainage information and flood defences.

In the use of watercolour on paper, flow, permeability, porosity and liminality are values that are shared with watery environments. The saltings, mudflats and sandbanks are negotiable territories; their identity is fluid and porous. As a drawing they can be considered an extension of the sea on the flood or attached to the land on the ebb. Sticking to the familiar, mimetic formula of brown land and blue water, Simon used brands of tea and coffee at different concentrations for the browns, to which he added tobacco from a cache he discovered hidden since World War II behind the lining of the cabin on the Dutch barge on which he lives. Blue came as a present of woad and indigo from a friend.

Simon views his work as a valuable tool in discussing environmental change and management in a community context. The map might thus simultaneously be autonomous as an artwork and a vehicle for insight and information.

Simon Read

Simon is a visual artist and lecturer at Middlesex University who is based in Suffolk. Simon was part of the Learning to Live with Water Researching Environmental Change network and appeared in the Impact Fellowship film Imagining Change: Coastal Conversations.

Lincolnshire Landscapes

The artwork was officially 'launched' at Lincolnshire Landscapes, a day event of talks and creative practice inspired by the landscape of Lincolnshire and held at the University of Nottingham on 16th April 2013. More details can be found on the event page.

Apex detail Apex detail
Humber detail  Humber detail 
What media is the work? 
Watercolour on paper, using different brands of tea and coffee and tobacco as well as the natural dyes woad and indigo.
What size is the work? 
The scale of the map is 1:8333.33. 
Where can I see the work?
The map is on display in the School of Geography, University of Nottingham

Related links





Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071