Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) will feature a new exhibition of work by photographer Corinna Wagner exploring the edges between water and land.

The exhibition includes artworks of the built and natural environment, ruined and rewilded. There are abandoned piers and once-grand seaside hotels of the South West, northern industrial ruins, and lakeshore properties ravaged by forest fires in North America.

These landscapes speak about ‘solastalgia’: a sadness and anxiety about environmental damage to homes, land, rivers and seas. But they also speak about possibility: there are rewilded and resurrected landscapes here. Even in the most ravaged places, biodiversity recovery is possible when humans stand back, when ruins are allowed rebirth.   

Wagner’s practice reflects this emphasis on renewability: she works in cyanotype and plant-based anthotype, prints on mulberry paper and cotton rag, processes images in seawater and sand, paints with oils made from reclaimed waste and with natural beeswax. These layered images, and her handmade photobooks, capture the haunting and ever-changing nature of coastlines, riverbanks and edgelands.

The exhibition grows out of Professor Corinna Wagner’s work with the Time and Tide Bell Project, supported by the UK Climate Resilience Programme and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).  One of the new Time & Tide bells created by Marcus Vergette will feature in this exhibition. His bells celebrate the connections between land and sea, but also remind us of rising sea levels, flooding and coastal erosion.

This exhibition is a true partnership project where Wagner has collaborated with poets, film makers, writers, musicians, photographers and sculptors to develop a diverse engagement and events programme. Alongside the exhibition, Wagner’s students from the University of Exeter will present works as part of their final dissertation.

Corinna Wagner commented: "I wanted to invite students from my Cultures of Realism course to exhibit as part of TerraOceanus. They have produced new work responding to themes of environmental change, changing ways of life and evolving identities.

"This exhibition explores our impact on this planet and urges us to realign our priorities. In particular, it celebrates abandoned places as sites of rewilding, of nature’s reclamation, of resurrection, rebirth and regrowth."

Councillor Nick Hookway, Portfolio Holder Tourism, Sport, Leisure and Culture said: "TerraOceanus is an exhibition that reflects the concerns that many East Devon residents have over our impact upon the environment and the need to adapt and protect that which we value. All of us need to reflect upon our own individual responsibilities towards the environment and how we can help in the move towards NetZero.

"This is a thought -provoking exhibition by a local artist who demonstrates that sustainability and artistic challenge can co-exist side by side."

The exhibition will be celebrated as part of National Marine Week (22 July - 6 August) at both THG and the Exmouth Festival (28 -31 July) with art activities in THG's Creative Cabin.

THG's new Youth Network Create Our Space is designed to engage young people aged 11-25 with arts, culture, diversity and the climate emergency. As part of this project, young people from Create our Space will be taking over THG's community engagement programme. The  Creative Cabin will go on tour across East Devon bringing creative activities to local communities including Axminster and Cranbrook. 

THG will also offer a coordinating programme of events at the gallery: 

  • Private View: Friday 16 June, 5-7pm featuring artist talk by Corinna Wagner, live music and poetry by Andy Brown and David Briggs, reading by writer and editor Sally Flint
  • Brass & bell performance with artist and musician Marcus Vergette
  • Screening of COTIDAL: a film by Devon-based artist Tania Kovats and commissioned by Time and Tide Bell. The film will eventually be 24 hours and 50 minutes long - the length of a lunar day - tracking the wave of high tide around the UK. Through contributions from local communities alongside segments created by Kovats, the film is a meditation on the question "What do you see when you see the sea?"
  • Eco-art and poetry workshop with Corinna Wagner and Sally Flint of Exeter’s Green Futures initiative.
  • Talk and reading by writer John Clarke, of the Red River Project and author of the new poetry collection Boy Thing.

This flagship project is funded by an Arts Council England National Lottery project grant, by the UK Government through the Shared Prosperity Fund. and by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Corinna Wagner: TerraOceanus
17 June - 12 August 2023
Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm.
For the coordinating programme, visit Workshops and Events | Thelma Hulbert Gallery