Artistic Vision

It’s All About the River is a major cultural programme presented by The River Tamar Project and Plymouth University, which aims to explore the historical and future connections of local and international communities with the river.

Running through September and October, the festival explores the past, present and future of the river and features new commissions from local, national and international artists and filmmakers, alongside screenings of popular and cult classics in impressive settings along the banks of the Tamar.

BAFTA nominee John Akomfrah and his production company Smoking Dogs explore a deep-rooted, darker history of the river and its connections to the slave trade. Their film transforms the landscape of the river into a 16th Century English port of exploration and an unfamiliar place on the African continent.

The people who live on the banks of the river are instrumental in bringing the river to life and we are delighted to work with artists who are inspired by these communities: Melanie Manchot exploring the clubs that occupy the village hall; Mikhail Karikis working with children to reflect on the storms and floods of last winter; and Mark Vernon who was commissioned in partnership with Take A Part to highlight the lack of access to the river affecting Barne Barton.

With the support of Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, Uriel Orlow exposes the seepage of industrial materials that affects the river and seeks to ask some serious questions about the wider issues of environmental pollution.

Taking inspiration directly from the river are Kayla Parker and Stuart Moore whose work has been created by immersing 16mm film in the water. Conversely, Richard Allman takes his perspective from above the water. Richard is an incredible draughtsman and we have challenged him to reflect on his years of understanding this landscape by evolving his drawings into a film.

“Working with such renowned artists allows us to explore the international reach and context of the river and to help develop new thinking around the River Tamar’s future. We are enabling national and international artists, as well as individual communities, to create striking works and thought-provoking experiences. The festival will not only celebrate this important natural asset, but will raise its profile both nationally and internationally.”

Paula Orrell, Artistic Director, River Tamar Project

The programme of contemporary and historic film, compiled by artist and film curator Lucy Reynolds and Peninsula Arts film programmer David McErlane, includes open air presentations of cinema classics, special screenings just for children and the premieres of new films. It will also use the extensive archive of films relating to rivers at LUX and the South West Film and Television Archive.

Being staged with funding from Arts Council England, the British Film Institute Film Festival Fund, the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, the Heritage Lottery Fund, FEAST, the festival aims to celebrate and revitalise cultural spaces and communities and raise new questions about the river’s potential as an economic and cultural force in the 21st Century.