The Wetlands on Wheels Caravan has arrived at the Forest Centre and throughout August you’ll be able to meet the artists responsible for this part of the project – Dr Kerry Morrison and Helmut Lemke (and their adorable poodle Rosa) as they curate the art-meets-science based exhibition.

Inspired by The Wetland Life project (and supported by Arts Council funding) they have taken scientific findings about mosquitos and wetland habitats (both here, and at several sites around the country) and transformed them into their own artistic vision. From a mini wet-lab, to the mosquito love song - it’s a totally unique take on one aspect of the vast subject of the climate crisis and how it will affect the natural world.

The science bit

The crux of the original project was to look at ways of managing wetlands for the future to mitigate the spread of disease carrying mosquitos, as a result of climate change. Mosquitos are drawn to wetlands as they need to be close to water for their larvae and they generally feed off birds (in this country less than 6 of the 37 species actually bite humans). The concern is that as temperatures get warmer and wetter, the disease carrying species will migrate and end up attracted to UK wetlands - like ours. The findings point at managing wetland environments in advance to make them less conducive to mosquito breeding, therefore pushing them into less inhabited areas.

Microscope and sound equipment

The mosquito love song beer mats and other equipment you can play with in the caravan

An artists perspective

Helmut and Kerry appreciate that mosquitos aren’t a well-liked species so it was always going to be a challenging brief (even as a sound artist and an artist with a doctorate in environmental science) but having now worked closely with the scientific findings of Wetland Life as inspiration, they hope it sheds a bit more light on them as a useful insect rather than a pest. Kerry said:

I have a new found respect for them – they are the very bottom of the food chain. To us they’re a nuisance – nothing more – but without them we wouldn’t have the majestic insects like damselflies, who feed off them. Bats can even eat 3000 in one night. They’re vital.

The caravan itself is worth exploring more than once as it’ll be evolving throughout the course of the month. Helmut explained to me that as the workshops and events happen and people share their own thoughts it will grow and change – "it’ll look totally different at the end, hopefully."

Artist Helmut Lemke and Rosa the poodle

Helmut Lemke with the WoW and Rosa the poodle

Art walks and mosquito talks

If you’re interested in going a bit more in depth about the scientific research or artistic interpretation, then we have more specific events on throughout August:

Wednesday 14th Aug - Dr Frances Hawkes leads free guided walks (11am and 2pm) looking at the scientific research that’s been done about mosquitos in our Wetlands as part of the Wetland Life project.

Thursday 15th Aug - Dr Joe Morris joins Kerry on a free guided walk (11am) looking at the value of nature.

Sat 17th/Sun 18th Aug - Kerry will be running creative sessions in the wetlands, using action cards (for e.g. your card may say ‘Walk 100 paces, stop and draw what you see for 2 minutes. Walk another 100 paces and repeat’). Basically inspiring a bit of creativity! You don’t need to have any previous experience at drawing to attend this – it’s suitable for all ages and we think it’ll be an amazing way of engaging with the Wetlands. We’re sending our volunteer Celia along, so you’ll hear more about her journey next week…

Click here for more details and times

 Find out more about the Wetland Life project on their website, and read more about our other upcoming events this summer here.

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