Trace Elements 4: Mapping by Water

Jane Atkinson

Trace Elements 4: Mapping by Water

The mining of natural materials from the ground; copper, tin and china clay, has been a major activity within the catchments of many Cornish rivers, leading to contamination from metalliferous compounds creating a source of suspended solids in our water courses, in some places staining the river beds bright orange or coating them milky white.

The artist’s motivation to create art for this project came from her love of rivers and an interest in their physical, chemical, molecular and phenomenological effect both on man and the landscape.

The process; to walk a length of river, gather a water sample, process it in the lab by reducing it on a hot plate, the resulting quintessence then put through an X-ray fluorescence machine to gather computer data analysing the levels of five trace elements. This data is then used to produce a series of maps of Cornwall using GIS computer software, defined by the levels of Trace Elements in the rivers.

Images taken from the Artful Ecologies Exhibition, 12-15 July 2006.