May 2023


Chalk Streams, 2023

Crystal clear chalk streams intertwine and weave throughout the counties of Dorset and Hampshire in Southern England, close to my home.  I began making the Chalk Streams series during the 2020 lockdowns and continued over the next 2 years, tracing these rivers from networks of small steams and tributaries to the wide fast-flowing rivers of the Frome, the Piddle, the Itchen and the Test.

There are just over 200 chalk streams globally, 85% of which are found in the UK.  Rain falls on highly permeable chalk, percolating into the ground where the chalk layer acts as an aquifer, filtering the groundwater as it flows through the bedrock to emerge lower down the slope as crystal clear mineral rich water which is often described as ‘gin clear’.

Chalk Streams are typically wide and shallow, their cool stable waters emerging from underground sources which flow across flinty gravel beds. They are a unique ecosystem supporting a high biodiversity of wild creatures and have been likened to rainforests and coral reefs in their ecological importance.

These rare and delicate ecosystems are under threat from numerous stressors including climate change, rising sea levels, pollution from sewage overspill, water abstraction, farmland runoff and the practice of stocking rivers with trout for sport fishing.

In this series light reflected from the surface of the nearby sea is overlaid onto these river landscapes, creating a sparkling ingress.  This beguiling glimmer snakes its way upstream, but the peaceful waters and arcadian setting bely a darker narrative.  The transposed light symbolises the coming consequences of climate change and rising sea levels as they insidiously impose themselves on these pristine landscapes, bringing together two places that should never meet.

This series highlights the grave perils facing these important ecosystems and the critical need to protect them from the pressures humanity is placing upon them.