Has water evolved us?

Extracts from an interview on my writing with Sarah Gray on Soundart Radio. Listen in

‘I’m trying to have water as a protagonist but trying not to anthropomorphise it….

I’m engaging with water as an entity. It’s probably extraterrestrial. There is a theory that it came from outer space….

In my regular train commutes along the coast I tried to imagine what it would it look like with a significant sea level rise, what would be visible above a 4 metre sea level rise….


My book, The Water Age and other fictions includes a short story about scientists in Iceland trying to graft themselves with algae, and it includes my novella, Meanda. Meanda is a water exoplanet. I invented a mycelium translator that could be charged up through tree sap and enable the Meandans (amphibians) to communicate with humans. The great thing about fiction is it’s got to be credible but you don’t have to work out all the details of how things work!

The Meandans involve water in their decision making. They treat other species and entities as their equals.

Diverse bits of my work feed each other. The mycelium idea came from an art project I was working on with Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius for the Zooetics project. That project, in turn, was inspired by J.G. Ballard’s stories, in Vermilion Sands, of a dress and a psychotropic house made from living plant materials that respond to the wearer’s or the inhabitant’s body chemistry and emotions.

Water Love

Water Love

1 Annantalo Childrens Workshop

Not being able to immerse during the current lockdown is hard going for those of us who are hydrophiles. In 2018 I published three small books with the series title, The Water Age. They were the culmination of my research in the arts and ecology project, Frontiers in Retreat.

One book is a collection of short future fiction stories, including Meanda, which is set on a watery exoplanet; Asbru, which imagines researchers grafting themselves with algae in Iceland; and other stories exploring slime technologies, aquatic biomimicry, and water as an extraterrestrial.

The other two books are collections of instructions for art and writing workshops focused on water: one is for children’s workshops and the other for adults. These latter two books derived from workshops I ran at a range of places including HIAP on Suomenlinna Island, Finland; Annantalo children’s art school in Helsinki (pictured above); on the ferry going to Uto island, Finland; Glen Nevis in Scotland; OVADA in Oxford; Modern Art Oxford, and a primary school in Northumberland.

If you are interested in running water art or writing workshops yourself for children or adults, books 2 and 3 give simple instructions that you can follow and adapt for your own workshops. The books are available as paperbacks or ebooks from Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

And here are some other watery resources to check out and keep you going in these dry times:

Tuomas A. Laitenen art with octopuses

Outdoor Swimming Society on lockdown swimming

Wet Sounds underwater/in water soundart

Amy Sharrock’s Museum of Water

Tine Bech’s pool art The Big Swim