Seminar: The Arts Reflect on Water

May 14-18

at the 2nd International Conference of the Global Network of Water Museums

Town Hall, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands



Chairman: Clive Adams


INTRODUCTION by Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World UK

Clive Adams is a curator whose career over 40 years has been associated with the work of artists whose work has engaged with the land and nature, from JMW Turner to Richard Long, David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy. He founded CCANW in 2001 and has since delivered programmes which range from eco-fashion to sustainable timber architecture. Its most recent project ‘Soil Culture’ was the UK’s most substantial contribution to the UN’s International Year of Soils in 2015. Now based at Dartington in SW England alongside its partner, it is currently involved in the Science Walden project, with a S. Korean university – a project bridging art and science, based on the new technology of a waterless toilet.

Clive made a presentation at the Global Network’s first meeting in Venice last year which demonstrated the ways in which artists today engaged with water issues. For this second meeting, he has invited some leading artists and curators to make presentations on their work, after which he will lead a discussion. See


Presenter: Sue Spaid

WATER RECLAMATION: European Ecoventions, 1972-present

Belgium-based philosopher Sue Spaid, Ph.D., has been active in the American artworld as a collector, curator, art writer, university lecturer and museum director since 1984. As an independent curator, she has organized over 50 exhibitions for artist-run spaces, university galleries, commercial galleries and museums. These included her traveling exhibition ‘Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses, and Abandoned Lots,’ 2013. Her most recent exhibition ‘Ecovention Europe: Art to Transform Ecologies, 1957-2017’ was recently shown at Museum De Domijnen in Sittard in The Netherlands.

In addition to having written three books on eco-art, she has published over 60 essays in exhibition catalogs. She authored the book ‘Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies’  that accompanied the 2002 exhibition she co-curated with Amy Lipton. She also wrote ‘A Field Guide to Patricia Johanson’s Works’ to accompany a touring retrospective.

In her talk, Sue discusses ecoventions by a number of international artists who have built and tested innovative strategies for restoring local water sources. These include Jackie Brookner, Agnes Denes, Hans Haacke, Ecole Mondiale, Nils Norman, Studio Orta, Marjetica Potrč/Ooze and Vera Thaens. See


Presenter: Basia Irland.

READING THE RIVER: Pick up a paddle and join us on journeys down rivers around the world.

Basia Irland, Professor Emerita and Founder, Art and Ecology Program, University of New Mexico, is an author, poet, sculptor, installation artist, and activist who creates international water projects, featured in two books, ‘Water Library’ (University of New Mexico Press, 2007) and ‘Reading the River: The Ecological Activist Art of Basia Irland’. She lectures and exhibits extensively and in 2016 had a major retrospective, ‘Reading the River,’ at the Museum De Domijnen, Sittard, The Netherlands.

In this talk, Basia will discuss the blogs she writes for National Geographic about global rivers written in the first person from the perspective of the water. She will focus on ‘The Gathering of Waters’ projects, which connect communities and foster dialogue, person to person along the length of rivers. ‘Ice Receding/ Books Reseeding’ feature ephemeral hand-carved sculptural ice books embedded with native riparian seeds for river restoration projects. Working with scientists, she has produced and filmed a video documentary about the deadly water-borne disease schistosomiasis and created a series of scrolls depicting numerous parasites that are transmitted through water. She collaborates with scholars from diverse disciplines building rainwater harvesting systems. See www.


Presenters: Nancy Nowacek and Eve Mosher.

WORKS ON WATER: Working in the Waterways of New York

Both presenters are artists based in New York City. Nancy Nowacek makes art focused on the power and politics of the body in late-capital, post-industrial culture. Her projects are often socially-engaged and process-driven, involving the collaboration of dozens to hundreds of participants in their realization.

Eve Mosher is both an artist, interventionist and playworker-in-training. Her works use investigations of the landscape as starting points for audience exploration of urban issues. Her public works raise issues on the environment, public/private space use, history of place, cultural and social issues and our understanding of the urban ecosystem. Her work has been profiled in international media including the The New Yorker and New York Times.

In their specially made short video, Nancy and Eve will present their work in the urban waterways of New York City. They will also share the work they are doing as part of the curatorial team of ‘Works on Water’, an artist-lead organization working to increase knowledge of advocacy for the urban waterways through art and also to support the growing community of artists who work on, in and with the water. See



Presenter: Yasmine Ostendorf

THE LAB FOR NATURE: Re-Thinking Materials Futures for Artists

Curator Yasmine Ostendorf studied at the University of Amsterdam and runs the Green Art Lab Alliance, a network of 35 cultural organisations in Europe and Asia, and is the author of the connecting series of guides mapping art organisations working with environmental issues. Her interest is in the role of the arts in restoring our distorted relationship to each other and the planet. Since March 2017 she is the Head of the Jac. P. Thijsse Lab for Nature Research at the Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht and the initiator of its new ‘Food Lab’.

The Van Eyck Academy houses 40 artists for a year-long programme and offers 7 in-house well-equipped labs for different expertise and skills. The presentation will focus on the work of the ‘Lab for Nature’, an adaptive centre of expertise for developments in landscape, ecology and sustainability that enables artists from around the world to explore in depth, through their (art) work, their relation to nature. The Lab is also developing a ‘Future Materials Bank’, an archive of alternative materials for artists that are not damaging for the natural environment, and on the development of the world’s first self-powered smart greenhouse using new solar technology. See


Presenter: Amy Sharrocks.(15 MAY)

MUSEUM OF WATER: A collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories

Amy Sharrocksis a live artist, sculptor and filmmaker from London whose work gives careful consideration to the impact we have on each other and the world. She has been investigating people and our relationship to water for over 10 years, in artworks which offer intimate moments of exchange as well as large, spectacular public events. In 2007, she invited 50 people to swim across London. In 2011 she completed ‘London is a River City’, a series of public walks tracing 7 of London’s buried rivers: in the longest of these walks, 65 people wearing blue were tied together to walk silently along the Walbrook riverbed at rush hour.

Amy will speak about the live artwork Museum of Water, which she began in 2013. The Museum started on a street corner in Soho, and has toured to over 50 sites worldwide now, visited by over 65,000 people, and currently holds over 1,200 bottles in the collection. These range from a melted snowman to a burst London water main, water from the last Ice Age, a muddy puddle from Birmingham, to a canal in Rotterdam and water from Lourdes, Mecca and the Ganges.Museum of Waterwas nominated for European Museum of the Year 2016. See


AGAINST THE TIDE: An Inner Nature programme of videos

A programme of 12 short videos about different water issues, selected from an international open submission, and organised by the Polytechnic University of Valencia. The programme comprises 2 sections, an official section and a variable section, each lasting around 30mins. The sections will be screened continously on 2 seperate monitors. See