A new artwork has been created from river rubbish to help prevent our rivers going to waste.
As part of a wider project connecting communities with their rivers, the waste collected from a new RiverRubbish initiative puts the pollution of the River Almond in West Lothian in the frame.
Artist Annie Lord has transformed a small portion of the river waste gathered by local volunteers into an artwork that will serve as a reminder of the impact rubbish has on our rivers.
Set to be unveiled at Almondell and Calderwood Country Park today, River Series: Almond has been created by Annie using everything from Tennent’s cans to wet wipes and more to create a striking piece encased in resin. What at first appears to be a depiction of riverbank nature is on closer inspection revealed to be reclaimed rubbish in disguise.
Set to be displayed at the Almondell and Calderwood Country Park Centre, River Series: Almond hopes to encourage visitors to think twice when it comes to dealing with our rubbish.
RiverRubbish is part of the RiverLife Project – a four year plan to reconnect communities along the River Almond and River Avon with their rivers.
The first project of its kind in Scotland, RiverLife has begun to transform the River Avon and the River Almond through a mixture of large scale capital projects and smaller scale works. Community engagement has already had a huge impact in conservation of the rivers and widening access to the public. Tree planting, river bank restoration and riverside furniture repair work has been delivered by a mixture of professional contractors and enthusiastic volunteers.
As well as RiverRubbish activities delivered by the RiverLife team have included guided walks, invasive species identification and documentation and the popular primary school education programme Fish in the Classroom.
The unveiling of Annie Lord’s artwork River Series: Almond is the culmination of RiverRubbish which included a series of volunteer and public events specifically around the issue of litter and sewage in our rivers. This season’s project has been based at the Almondell and Calderwood Country Park, a beautiful site filled with giant luscious trees and gentle country strolls, which the river Almond runs through. The park has been battling the issue of wet wipes being caught in low hanging tree branches; this not only highlights the sewage litter issue but also can ruin visitors’ walks by interrupting the natural beauty of the park.
Throughout September a team of intrepid volunteers from local angling groups and the Friends of the Country Park collected an astonishing 1,384 items from just 100 metres of river bank. The vast majority of collected items were wet wipes and sanitary products that people had mistakenly thought were flushable and had come out of the sewage works into the river during an all too common overflow event. This occurs when water levels rise and water treatment plants don’t have the capacity to process residential and industrial sewage resulting in the excess being directed into our rivers.
Annie said: ‘Like many people I was completely unaware of the extent to which rivers are being filled with wet wipes and other rubbish. Seeing the volume collected in such a small area really brought the message home. Working with the intrepid volunteers from local angling groups and Friends of the Country Park we used some of the ‘best’ items to draw awareness to the fact that what people mistakenly flush they can meet again later on their walk. I’m delighted with the energy and enthusiasm these volunteers brought to RiverRubbish workshops and I have looked to channel that in the creation of River Series: Almond. I hope that the work will put a spotlight on the need to consider our rivers and care for them.’
Lead partner of the RiverLife project is the Forth Rivers Trust and director Alison Baker said: ‘RiverRubbish perfectly encapsulates the challenges and opportunities we have with our rivers. While the levels of rubbish seen in the River Almond can be disheartening and symptomatic of the wider issues of waste management, the willingness, commitment and care shown by local communities points the way forward for creating a new relationship with our rivers. Annie Lord’s work on this project is an important step in this process and I’m delighted with how her work and approach has captured the interest and imagination of local community members along this stretch of the River Almond.’
River Series: Almond will remain in situ at Almondell and Calderwood Country Park. RiverLife: Almond & Avon is a partnership project between the Forth Rivers Trust (formerly the River Forth Fisheries Trust) , West Lothian Council & City of Edinburgh Council, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, SEPA Water Environment Fund, The Scottish Government, West Lothian & City of Edinburgh Councils.
For those who would like to know more or get involved in volunteer activities like RiverRubbish they can follow the projects development and get involved at www.river-life.org.uk.