Anna Macleod is an artist based in the rural northwest of Ireland whose recent work embraces questions about land and resources. Water Conversations is the umbrella term for an ongoing series of works that addresses water through political, social and cultural lenses. Macleod’s aim has been to build an alternative, global commons map of this finite resource – water – a substance that is at the core of life itself. Articulated as a series of actions, small sculptures, posters, drawings, interdisciplinary collaborations, sound works, public interventions and site specific works, Water Conversations explores the complex interstices between landscape and geopolitics, science and technology, culture and tradition.

FIELDWORK Q&A – July 2015

How is fieldwork part of your practice?
My work is research based and site specific, over the past 8 years I have chosen water as a metaphoric and emotive tool to investigate landscapes, embedded knowledge in specific locations and the interlinked prospects for a rapidly changing world. The complex nature of water in its various states of solid, liquid and vapour define our physical, emotional and temporal relationship with our environment. Thus my approach to fieldwork takes multiple forms and involves research, documentation, performative walks, interviews and the construction of small portable sculptural objects that journey with me through damaged or stressed environments. These devices help me to mediate a physical and psychological pathway through troubled landscapes.

How would you describe your fieldwork activity?
I have tried to develop a methodology of working that is transferrable and mutable to different locations and functions as a framework for entering an environment. I rely on a multiplicity of sources to help this investigation of place by visiting libraries and archives, literary references & conversations with locals often with the help of translators. I have developed working relationships and collaborations with a range of people including fellow artists, local historians, engineers, cultural geographers, miners, scientists, community and activist groups. I am interested in the layered information that informs the reading of place and try to understand the myriad of ways that humans intersect with nature.

How are you currently sharing your fieldwork?
The ongoing project, ‘Water Conversations’ now spans 9 bodies of work and exists in a variety of forms, as site specific landscape installations, street actions and conversational encounters, posters, texts, photographs, drawings, sculptures, sound works and short video pieces. The ephemeral nature of some of the work means that the only trace of it is in a range of objects, photographic documents and texts.

Water Conversations – Alberta