22nd May to 13th June 2021
PLOT: Water Laid was produced as part of Estuary Festival located at Wat Tyler Country Park. The work explores the history of water wells within the surrounding area through research into recorded and unrecorded local water wells, a series of geographical map paintings, a mobile sculptural wishing well on wheels and group conversations with locals included, Deanna Walker, Ken Porter, David Richards and Mary Saunderson. The project looks at 137 years of local history (1848-1985) through the use of wells. Rich records that analyse the quality of water, ground, soil and usage, everything ranging from the British Explosive Syndicate well in Wat Tyler to the medicinal wells of Edwin Cash in Vange and much in-between. There has been a long standing folklore tradition that springs and wells were sacred places as water was initially thought to have healing powers, so many people would drink it, bathe in it or wish over it. This is evidenced by Mr Cash who got the water from his well (Vange Well no5), tested for medicinal purposes, and was later sold in local pharmacies. Mr Cash valued his magical water so much he built a Grecian style temple around the well, which still stands today in half ruin. This gesture seems comparable to the idea of wishing wells in that people would make a wish and toss a coin into a well. That wish would then be granted depending on how it landed at the bottom – heads it would be granted, tails the wish would be ignored. This ‘performative’ work for Estuary 2021 shares these stories and research, whilst inspiring new conversations about our most precious resource, water.