A Gathering of Waters: catchment poem

A Tweed Catchment poem

Read them aloud to really taste the waters.

Tweeds Well Cor Water Smidhope Burn Glencraigie Burn Pipershole Burn Badlieu Burn Old Burn Peddrire Burn Glenwhappen Burn Fingland Burn Hawkshaw Burn Hallo Burn Rigs Burn Fruid Water Longslack Hallo Burn Gala Burn Biggar Water Holms Water Lyne Water Manor Water Ugly Grain Langhale Burn New Holm Hope Burn Dry Cleugh Kirkhope Burn Linghope Burn Horsiehope Burn Mill Burn Tower Burn Hallmanor Burn Hundleshope Burn Ternies Burn Rae Burn The Glack Belanrig Ditch Glensax Burn Stakelaw Burn Shortstrands Meldon Burn Eddleston Water  Fairy Dean Burn Longcote Burn Whitelaw Burn  Dean Burn  Wormiston Burn  Gill Burn Edderston Burn Soonhope Burn Kittlegary Burn Common Burn Haystoyn Burn  Waddenshope Burn Linn Burn Kailzie Burn Kirk Burn Dirtpot Burn Fawn Burn Kay’s Burn Quair Water Kirk Burn Banks Burn Gumscleugh Burn Peat Burn Deuchar Burn Blair Burn Weil Burn Fethan Burn Glass Burn Violet Burn Redmore Burn Newhall Burn Curly Burn Paddy Burn Hannel Burn Dean Burn Blacksike Fingland Burn Campshiel Burn Taniel Stell Burn Armour Burn Leithen  Bowbeat Burn Craig Hope Burn Luce Burn Huthope Burn Purlukas Burn Back Burn North Grain South Grain Williamslee Burn Denly Burn Leithen Door Burn March Burn Glentress Water Dewar Burn Rothmoss Burn Whitecleuch Burn Gill Well Black Grain Wolf Cleugh Long Grain Middle Burn Kitty’s Cleuch Burn North Grain South Grain Rae Cleuch Blackhopebyre Burn Razorscar Burn Landlaw Well Glentress Burn Whitehope  Burn Woolhope Burn Hope Burn Perlego Syke Mousedean Burn Harpershiels Shaw Burn Lee Burn Middle Burn Blinkbonny Burn Pious Dean Walkerburn Thorter Syke West Grain Priesthope Burn Minchmore Burn Glenmead Burn Glenbenna Burn Bold Burn Scrogbank Burn Stonegrain Brummycleuch Caberston Grain Seathope Burn Corgay Sike Gatehopenow Burn Slade Sike Back Burn Perlooie Burn Hollylee Burn Caddon Water Lugate Water Hope Burn Fore Burn moveBack Burn Gately Burn Nether Shiels Burn Calfhope Burn Thrashie Burn Ewes Water Fernie Grain Sit Burn Cockholm Burn Nethertown Burn Pirntaton Burn Still Burn Comely Burn Howliston Burn Toddle Burn Brockhouse Burn Shoestanes Burn Brothershiels Burn Armet Water Heriot Water Tathiesknowe Burn Ladyside Burn Gala Water Crosslee Burn Halk Burn Crumside Burn Soonhope Burn Leader Water Linn Dean Water Headshaw Burn Mean Burn Hillhouse Burn Kelphope Burn Cleekhimin  Burn Whaplaw Burn Jocks Burn Earnscleugh Water Harry Burn Lauder Burn Snawdon  Burn Blythe Water Wheel Burn Wester Burn  Easter Burn Brunta Burn Boondreigh Water Strudon Burn Packman’s Burn Bogle Burn Kelly Burn Eden Water Redden Burn Yarrow Water Altrieve Burn Eldinhope Burn Whitehope Burn Wurtus Burn Black Sike Hangingshaw Burn Gruntly Burn Mountbenger Burn Catslack Burn Craigshope Burn Lewenshope Burn Ettrick Water Entertrona Burn Longhope Burn East Grain Coomb Burn  Broadgairhill Burn Glendearg Burn Phawhope Burn Kirkhope Burn Brochhope Burn Master Grain East Grain Back Burn Black Grain Cossarshill Burn Scabcleuch Burn Kirk Burn Tima Water Over Dalgeish Burn Nether Dalgeish Burn Tairlaw Burn Glenkerry Burn Dunhope Sike Stairlaw Burn Crow Burn Phenzhopehaugh Burn Killing Sike Stanhope Burn Warleshope Burn Dunhope Burn Shorthope Ske Rushy Sike Tinker Sike Boor Sike Deephope Sike Blackbird Sike Deloraine Burn Foster Linns Potloch Burn Whitehill Sike Blind Burn Whitehillshiel Burn Gilldiesgreen Burn Baillie Burn Dodhead Burn Dodhead Grain Little Thorniecleuch Burn Thorniecleuch Burn Bellendean Burn Crookedloch Sike Kingsideloch Sike Byrelee Burn Yoke Burn Rough Grain  Kings Grain  Hopehouse Burn Tushielaw Burn Smail Burn Rankle Burn Clear Burn Little Burn Priest Sike Milsey Burn Crosslee Burn Ale Water Boglie Sike Bleakhill Burn Gowdie Sike Black Sike  Mid Sike  Woll Burn River Teviot Worms Cleuch Ewesdown Sike Lambs Cleuch Allan Water Linhope Burn Frostlie Burn Corrie Sike Phaup Burn Limie Sike Hare Sike Black Cleuch Limiecleuch Burn Hazelhope Burn Lairhope Burn Dovecot Burn Nest Burn Weens Sike Borthwick Water Aithouse Burn Cromrig Burn Southdean Burn Northhouse Burn Back Burn Teindside Burn Newmill Burn Ropelaw Sike Hay Sike Rankle Burn Wolfcleuch Burn Northhope Burn Dirthope Burn Nitshiel Sike Wood Burn Camp Burn Hoscote Burn Merchelyton Burn Wilton Burn Cala Burn Boonraw Burn Hassendean Burn Grinding Burn Leap Burn Flosh Burn Harwood Burn Midburn Langside Burn Priesthaugh Burn Skelfhill Burn Dod Burn Allan Water Slitrig Water Flex Burn Horseley Burn March Sike Acreknowe Burn Pagton Burn Barns Burn Gibby’s Sike Lang Burn Brown’s Sike Rope Sike Grey Mare’s Sike Kiln Sike Steel Sike Long Sike Leap Burn Blind Sike Honey Burn Hawk Burn Tower Burn Rule Water Hawthornside Burn Hob’s Burn Hallrule  Burn Dyke’s Burn Wolfhopelee Burn Catlee Burn Hass Sike Bracken Sike Redstone Sike Common Sike Pench Rise Burn Cogsmill Burn Jed Water Bowmont Water Leet Water Lambden Burn Faseny Water Wedderlie Burn Mid Burn Edgar Burn Blackadder Stoney Park Burn Foul Burn Black Rig Burn Wellrig Burn Bogpark Burn Millknowe Burn Fangrist Burn Langton Burn Kirk Burn Lintlaw Burn Fosterland Burn Draden Burn Billiemire Burn Whiteadder Kale Water Eden Water River Till Finger Burn Simprin Burn Horndean Burn

Compiled by Claire Pençak and James Wyness for Working the Tweed in 2013.

Young Water / Old Water

We spent a sunny day last May working on the edge of the Ettrick Water at Philiphaugh, a stone’s throw from the hydro turbines. It was the first few days of a project working with dancers and movement improvisation to explore what an ecological approach to choreography might be.

Improvisations, Tim Rubidge at Ettrick Water, May 2014. Photo Claire Pencak

Improvisations, Tim Rubidge at Ettrick Water, May 2014. Photo Claire Pencak

The collaborators on this were Claire Pençak, choreographer, dancers Merav Israel and Tim Rubidge and environmental artist Kate Foster.

One of the questions that emerged from this process was – How long would it take for a droplet of water to travel from the source to the mouth of Tweed?

This was the fascinating email from Professor Chris Soulsby, Chair in Hydrology, University of Aberdeen in response to our question.

‘What may seem a simple question actually has a very complex answer!

 I’ll start simple, for water molecules (water may enter the catchment as rain DROPS, but it’s better to think of the subsequent movement through the landscape as individual molecules) to travel from the source to the mouth of the Tweed RIVER SYSTEM will – as you say – depend on flow rates. In really wet conditions, it would probably take only a day or two. In dry weather, it might be a week or two.

But, water is only in the river for a very short proportion of its overall “residence time” in the Tweed CATCHMENT. Only a tiny (<0.01%) proportion of rain falls on the river channel, most will fall over the catchment land surface. There it may follow a bewilderingly complicated spectrum of possible flow paths to the river channel (depending on where you are geographically and whether it’s wet or dry). At one extreme end of the spectrum, rain may fall on a road surface, rapidly drain down the gutter in to storm drains and get to the river in a matter of minutes. The same rapid transport could happen in mountains if rain falls over bare rock and rapidly runs off in to mountain streams. At the other end of the spectrum it may fall on dry soils and slowly drain into groundwater in the underlying bedrock where (in the sedimentary sandstones in the lower Tweed) it make take decades or centuries to reach the river channel.

So the water in the river channel at any point in time is an integrated collection of water flows from these different sort of flow paths (specialists talk about a rivers “transit time distribution” to acknowledge this. In the winter and during wet periods, the water “age” will be biased to the rapid, short term flow paths and may be an average of several weeks/months old (in other words, most fell as rain in the previous few months).  In summer low flows, the water in the river will be dominated from deeper groundwater contributions and might be – on average – decades old.  But, these “ages” are averages of water that has a spectrum of ages. So, almost at any time SOME of the water in the river will have fallen in the past few months and SOME will have fallen before – say – the Battle of Flodden. The relative proportions shift depending upon how wet the weather is (when its wet the water is on average younger, as it dries the water is older).

In other words the water in the river is not only integrating everything that has happened over the large area of the catchment, but (to get back to your question) it’s integrating through history. That’s why protection of water is so important; for example agricultural or industrial pollutants input into the catchment today, may still be draining into the river in hundreds of years’ time!

 June 1st 2014

Improvisations, Tim, Kate and Merav, Philiphaugh Hydro Ettrick Water, May 2014.  Photo Claire Pencak

Improvisations, Tim, Kate and Merav, Philiphaugh Hydro Ettrick Water, May 2014. Photo Claire Pencak

Improvisations on Paper:, Ettrick Water May 2014 Photo Claire Pencak

Improvisations on Paper:, Ettrick Water May 2014
Photo Claire Pencak

Stone Lives




The above images are available as a postcard © Tabula Rasa 2014

Stone Lives is an artwork that developed from an investigation of riverbank ecology at the meeting point of the Ettrick and Yarrow, at Philliphaugh near Selkirk.


Our arrival at the riverbank in an afternoon in late May coincided with a hatch of Stone Flies – aquatic insects emerging from the water to find a stone to air themselves, and shed their final larval form.


Drawing © Kate Foster 2014

We were there to explore the river junction through movement improvisation, to understand it better as a complex place and to pay attention to more-than-human aspects. We were three dancers  – Merav Israel, Claire Pençak, and Tim Rubidge – and myself as recorder.  The river was low and we could walk on the smoothed rock, ancient mudstones shaped and sifted by ice and water.


Image © Tabula Rasa 2014

We had in mind the idea of a ‘passing-through-place’, a concept developed by an Australian cultural geographer, Leah Gibbs:

“So what I’m trying to get at with the idea of a ‘passing-through place’ is that some places may not be permanently dwelt in, but are extremely significant, vital places none-the-less. Permanent dwelling, fixity, longevity, are not the only ways of forming meaningful relationships with places.” (Leah Gibbs, reference 1,  see previous post)

As a newcomer to dance improvisation, I was entranced by the dancers’ swift and playful development of ideas. We all followed suit, when Tim placed a stone on his head.


Drawing © Kate Foster 2014

As Merav said, placing a stone on your head is a way to know the shape of your skull. What shape of stone fits you best – flat, hollowed, rounded, long?


Drawing © Kate Foster 2014


And how do you walk? My sense was of becoming a taut and aware line, a line moving between the shapes under my feet and the touch of the stone on my head. Attention is drawn to what is above and below. Tim described needing to adopt ‘a lightness of touch – otherwise the rocks got too rocky!’  With great balance, the dancers developed the possibilities of a stone minuet by circling in the forms of an early and stately dance.

Meanwhile Stone Flies were passing through their own sequences, taking flight after many larval forms. They left husks of themselves on the stones, an abandonment to life. Females were flying upriver, dipping into the water to lay eggs.


Photo © Tabula Rasa 2014


Merav was the first to see them, and puzzle over their presence. She described this later:

I was going in a direction no-one else was, I was skipping over stones for a long time … trying to see how far into the river I could go and still be on land. One of my jumps, was so! that I had to bend over because I lost my balance, then I realised there was lots of stuff clinging to the stone I was standing on. Something I have never seen before, so I had to squat down to have a good look at them. They blended into the stone quite well so I had to try to figure out: what is it I am seeing? There was an interesting shape, I couldn’t figure out what was the head and what was the tail so I had to investigate the structure. I imagined there was a bit of a split somewhere, that could be the tail – though the head did not really look like a head, on the other side. The colours – there was a nice pattern of lines, greys, lighter greys, and blacks, almost like a tiger. It really was the colours of the stone itself, and it did not seem like they were moving at all.  So I wondered if they were alive.  And I saw they were everywhere, everywhere on the stones around me.


Photograph © Tabula Rasa 2014

This set me on a trail, I collected husks for some days after – keen to find them before river levels rose. I searched online too, learning that of all the insects that live in water, Stone Flies need the cleanest water. They are ecological indicators of healthy streams, flattened and adapted to be able to cling to stones in rapid currents.  Apart from Trout who devour them, they are best known to fishermen, river ecologists and entomologists.  As one source remarks: “they are rather endearing little creatures once you get to know them”.

The fossil record of Stone Flies stretches far back to the Permian, but their adult life is brief.  A juxtaposition of Stone and Fly offers simultaneity at different timescales – a ‘so-far story’ (see earlier post here).

Stone Lives became an artwork inviting anthropologists at an international conference to share a sense of stone, and life supported.


Stone Lives Installation at Speculative Ground, 2014 (detail, tactile element). Tabula Rasa, 2014


Stone Lives Installation at Speculative Ground, 2014 (detail, audio and drawing elements). Tabula Rasa, 2014



Stone Lives Installation at Speculative Ground, 2014 (detail, drawing). Tabula Rasa, 2014


This work will be documented further. Support from the University of Aberdeen (Knowing From Inside project) allowed presentation at the Anthropological Association Decennial Conference, in Edinburgh June 2014, as part of a collaborative Speculative Ground Project with anthropologists Jen Clarke and Rachel Harkness.  The conference theme was Enlightenment. Stone Lives assisted an artistic exploration of Land Use. Our contribution  re-works anthropocentirc perspectives with an exploration of multiple aspects of place, articulated through Claire Pençak’s new text on Approaching Choreography.

Reference: Gibbs L 2014,  Arts-science collaboration, embodied research methods, and the politics of belonging: ‘SiteWorks’ and the Shoalhaven River, Australia. cultural geographies 21(2) 206-226

 Grateful thanks to support from the funders and conference organisers:






Little Green Book

We are delighted to be able to share this Little Green Book with you which has been imaginatively designed by Felicity Bristow of But ‘n’ Ben Bindery & Press, Maxton.  Click here to open the Little Green Book

The Little Green Book is based on our environmental policy and reflects our activities as a small rural based organisation that runs arts projects and tours performances and exhibitions both near and far. It is a simple achievable policy to help us to start to actively reduce our carbon footprint.

Please do share this Little Green Book with others and use it as a basis for writing your own.

Alongside the Little Green Book we are compiling an online directory of suppliers that we have found and used that have sustainable credentials and clear environmental policies. Please do tell us of suppliers you would like to recommend both locally within the Scottish Borders and beyond the Borders.

Report on Biodiversity and Leader conference, Vienna April 2014

As already reported  three of the Working the Tweed team were able to attend the Biodiversity and Leader conference earlier this month. This report was compiled by Kate Foster, Claire Pençak and Jules Horne.

Leader is an EU fund designed to help rural actors consider the long-term potential of their local region (more about Leader here).

Leader funds are administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs), who choose priorities and select projects proposed by community groups.

The reason behind this conference was that Biodiversity is a relatively low priority, and at risk of being overlooked when the targets are set in the 2014-2020 round.


The conference arose from real commitment to working together across the EU, supporting local initiatives, facilitating exchange and drawing inspiration for existing projects. The conference was the culmination of ‘Biodiversity and LEADER’ – a project led by Austrian organisation Umweltdachverband in cooperation with OAR Regionalberatung GmbH.

Several approaches to the implementation of biodiversity projects into LEADER were presented and discussed. Experts provided insights into the current status of the LEADER approach with respect to the new financing period 2014 – 2020 and informed the audience about important biodiversity topics of relevance to LAGs and local development strategies.

110 delegates attended the conference to listen to talks and to gather ideas for their own projects in three parallel poster sessions where 13 projects from 9 different countries were presented. Working the Tweed was the only UK representative and the only artist led project.

The conference was specifically directed at Austrian context where most delegates came from, but hearing about other projects gave points of comparison.

Power point presentations from the morning sessions , posters from the afternoon sessions and photographs of the event are available online – CLICK HERE.

The proceedings of the conference will be posted shortly on the same site.
All the projects presented at the conference will be featured in an illustrated printed publication which will be available by the end of May 2014.

Some specific points

A small portion of Leader funding goes to environment projects – and only a portion of this supports biodiversity. The reality of the competition between intensive agriculture and biodiversity was recognised. Relentless pressure from developments was understood to be usually given priority over conservation, with too little regard for environmental costs and limits.

It was clear that overall we should expect less EU money for rural funding – but surprising to know that significant amount of budgets never leave Brussels, in part because of the difficulty of obtaining match funding. It was universally agreed that funds are difficult to access and to administer, but hopefully improvements will be made in the new round. Changes were recommended to make it easier for smaller projects to access funds, and also to make LAGs representative of wider population. The way LAGs operate varies in each region.

The presentation by Magnus Wessel from Bund (Friends of the Earth) Germany was particularly  helpful. He reminded us the role biodiversity plays in our lives, and that matters are urgent. He cautioned us to concentrate on what was possible and to expect to deal with conflict (appropriate for the conference location – the Diplomatic Academy). Magnus pointed out the uneasy fit between LEADER competition and sustainability, and between conservation projects and the need to illustrate innovation. He drew out the need to make an emotional connection, suggesting the need for strategies for connecting with a wide public and not just specialists (particularly with young people who may go on to sustain projects).

Vienna slide 3

Image: slide from Magnus Wessel presentation “Local benefits of nature conservation“ vs. “Biodiversity is not for sale“ ?

Vienna slide 4

Image: slide from Magnus Wessel presentation “Local benefits of nature conservation“ vs. “Biodiversity is not for sale“ ?


 Presentation of individual projects

Parallel poster sessions allowed discussion of details that make a project distinctive, albeit within a short ten minute slot.

Highlights brought out included bringing people together, and an emphasis on ‘biocultural’ landscapes. This word represents a shift towards celebrating landscapes that are culturally valued- such as cherry trees, apple orchards, meadows, and of course river-ways.

Challenges identified revolved around maintaining the project over long term, and dependence on voluntary input. It was a shared experience that Leader applications and accounting were laborious – but this was a chance to congratulate those who had persisted in order to make an impact, and had found an activity that was achievable  within the programme.

The posters give overviews and online are a useful resource.

Two projects used ‘Animal Ambassadors’. “WOLF” brings together farmers and ecologists in north-west Spain where wolves are reintroducing themselves. It seems wolves are becoming ‘fashionable’ through their efforts, and a motor for tourism and the economy. Another project from Flanders named high quality beer after Little Owls, giving them a cultural presence in an area where they are in decline. A Slovenian project raised the profile and enjoyment of traditional fruit orchards. We realised the extent of ingenuity and commitment, in finding ways for people to experience and engage with biodiversity. Harnessing local pride and connection makes things feel more relevant.

This process did provide ideas and encouragement. As an artist led project, Working the Tweed was seen to offer a different strategy by forming collaborative partnerships between artists and those concerned with sustainable rural development. We reminded people that we were not involved as artists to make individual artworks, but to facilitate a broader understanding of specialist knowledge that can now be integrated into creative approaches. There was interest in the idea of adopting a catchment approach, and also in the idea of a River Festival to celebrate the return of migrating salmon.

vienna slide 6

Claire Pençak presenting Working the Tweed © Working the Tweed 2014

Catchment Conversations

Catchment Conversations Photo Kate Foster

Catchment Conversations Photo Kate Foster

In early February 2014, Catchment Conversations took place – the concluding event of the Working the Tweed programme. It was a gathering of people with different interests and connections to the Tweed Catchment. We shared views about the Tweed Rivers and discussed how we would like to imagine the future of the Catchment. The event took place in the inspiring studio at Hundalee Mill, the workplace for furniture maker Thomas Hawson on the Jed Water and we were well nourished during the day with  homemade soup , bread and cakes by Jenny Ozwell. Discussion revolved around what was working well on the river and what needed to be improved. We asked people to bring a photograph or image to illustrate both pf these and also an object that represented something about their particular connection to the Tweed rivers by way of an introduction. From the morning discussions, three topics were explored further in the afternoon : • Action towards creating a healthier ecosystem • Actions towards improving renewables in the Catchment • Action towards a better human appreciation of the river Catchment Conversations were framed at the start and end of the day by short presentations by the Working the Tweed artists. We explored what role art projects might play in catchment management and what the lead artists had experienced, working in different artforms. A full summary is available as a pdf by clicking HERE