During the first UK lockdown in Spring 2020, I dug a pond on my allotment to encourage pollinating insects and frogs and toads. Before I knew it the little circle of water was alive with tiny creatures, both above and beneath the surface.
The transformation amazed me, so I researched freshwater ponds and found that they are the most common and widespread habitat for all plants and animals on Earth. They are far richer in species than rivers, streams and lakes, and have a disproportionately large capacity to bury organic carbon compared to other habitat types, such as woodlands or grasslands.
During the past century, nearly 70 percent of ponds have been lost from the UK countryside.
I dug a completely new pool in late autumn 2020 and found that the mercurial canvas it offered provided me with endless opportunities for filming with various cameras and sound equipment from above and beneath the surface. To restrict myself, I created a series of 30 second ‘pond portraits’, inspired by the short format films of Samson Kambalu.
In the summer of 2021, I staged a 24-hour Pond Watch, recording the pond for a day and a night. I created many films from the footage following the 24-hour time progression. For exhibition though, I chose the extreme close ups shot during the hours of darkness with underwater lights. Four ten-minute edits were projected wall-sized onto each of the walls of a blacked-out room with seating and a soundscape, attempting to immerse the viewer into pond world and time.
For a second exhibition I reflected on the materiality of the work. The stark difference between the man made, plastic, metal, technology-based materials I use to record and edit films and the naturality of the pond and its inhabitants. I began considering the feel, smell, sound and taste of the water. Imagining how tadpoles or flies would feel on my skin, or how it would feel to be a wriggling tadpole or a tiny snail.