Posted by Gabrielle, Megan and Susie
We’re thinking together about how to enter a dialogue with the nonhuman inhabitants and nonhuman elements of landscape. In this sense, Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve comes on board as a fourth collaborator.
We’ve all visited Dawlish Warren before, but not as part of collaborative art practice, so this is an opportunity to discover the site afresh.
To gently tilt perspectives and re-think re-wonder a particular environment
Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve in Devon is an area of grassland, sand dunes and mudflats that provides refuge for many thousands of wild birds and over 600 different types of flowering plants. Spanning around 500 acres, it centres on a 1.5-mile sand spit across the mouth of the Exe Estuary. It’s bordered by a golf course and a popular beach resort, which means the human impact on the surroundings is very noticeable.
Metal detectorists beeping, banging, digging, hoping metal against metal in us
As we begin our investigation of the site, we find ourselves drawn to the signs, demarcations and divisions of ‘natural’ and ‘human’ territory: the unspoiled, the natural, the wild, the protected, the reserved.
For all the signs, read love. Love for a protective protected spit of land reaching out into the river, finger across the mouth as if silencing something, mouthing something
We become aware of the slippage and mimicry evident across and between these divisions.
And here, in trying to describe you, I am already calling you names, categorising, defining, demarcating, restricting you, …us
As well as a ‘buffer zone’ between the beach resort and the nature reserve, the most remote and sensitive part of the site (especially for bird feeding and breeding) is marked by Groyne 9. No dogs are allowed beyond Groyne 9 and, for about three hours before and after high tide, beach visitors and walkers are asked not to disturb the several thousand birds that gather on the Warren’s shores.
We three, as I*, go beyond groyne number 3, beyond dog walk, beyond Groyne number 9, beyond human swim, last chance for a duck dive
Exploring the common ground between us, we three, as I, go beyond the buffer zone…
* Thanks to Luce Irigaray