Echo-Maker takes the reintroduced Eurasian Crane as symbol of adaptability and renewal and is set within a reviving wetland landscape. It is a story of loss, return and hope.
It was commissioned by Somerset Art Works in 2017 as a response to the catastrophic floods of 2013/14 and made in collaboration with the Great Crane Project (RSPB) and rural communities in the Somerset Levels – who themselves contributed voices, stop-frame animation and a lot of insightful reflection on the experience of the floods.
Across many cultures cranes are associated with spring, renewal and regeneration. So then; a universal symbol of light and the turning of the wheel. Ecologically speaking they are a flagship species for wetlands – globally a vital habitat in terms of their capacity to filter and cleanse water. Humans cannot live without clean water. Therefore, from a purely anthropocentric perspective, cranes = healthy people. But there are more reasons to celebrate these ‘birds of heaven’.
Extinct in the British Isles for at least four hundred years, the return of the crane is a good news story, demonstrating that when we choose to we really can effect positive change.
Furthermore, the myriad small actions of many volunteers within this restoration show that great things can be achieved without the need for any one ‘Atlas’ figure to shoulder the burden alone.
Above all, cranes are adaptable. In this, they mirror the behaviour of a good smattering of the people of the Levels who, in inventing new ways to forge livelihoods on the land, are working with it rather than in conflict with it. As Stathe farmer Roderick Hector said in reflecting on the floods; “you can’t fight nature”.
Cranes = adaptability = new thinking/creativity = survival.
Echo-Maker has been presented in various locations within the landscape of the Levels, at Green Man Festival, 2019 (to an audience of over 20,000) and was the subject of a feature on BBC’s Countryfile which aired to around 8 million people in 2018. It is then a story of hope in large part told by the people that inhabit the landscape from which it was formed – and whose lives are mirrored in the lives of these deeply charismatic birds
Cranes from the Somerset flock have nested in South East Wales since 2016, successfully rearing their own young.
Preserved in the mud of the Gwent Levels are 7,000 year old crane footprints. Against the backdrop of the steady ticking of the geological clock, their absence has been a fleeting moment…