Exhibitions at GroundWork stimulate discussion and greater knowledge between artists, creators, community leaders, scientists, campaigners, and local people. We host regular inter-disciplinary conferences to explore the themes of our exhibitions.  Make sure to sign up to our mailings via our contact page here to be the first to know about events at GroundWork.

Fragile Nature, from destruction to creation & from control to freedom

Art and ecology study day

18 July: 10.30 for 11.00 - 5.00, (followed by a drinks reception at GroundWork Gallery)

Marriott’s Warehouse, South Quay, King’s Lynn,

On the occasion of:

‘Fragile Nature - from control to freedom’

at GroundWork Gallery and

‘‘Destroy and you Create: Gustav Metzger in King’s Lynn ’

at the Fermoy Gallery, for the King’s Lynn Festival

Bookings & further details: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fragile-nature-an-art-and-ecology-study-day-tickets-62610658164

Destroyed Basket, Lotte Scott


Previous event

Water Rising - art innovation change and development.

A day-long study day/conference

At Thoresby College

May 17 2019

10.30 - 6.

Price £26.50 including lunch.

Thoresby College, Queen St, PE30 1HX


Bookings: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/water-rising-art-innovation-change-and-development-tickets-59087414046

Water Rising community engagement events are supported by Anglian Water’s Keep It Clear Campaign.

The Purfleet River, outside the gallery, at low tide

Roger Coulam


Previous conference

Friday 30 November

In King's Lynn, Thoresby College and GroundWork Galle

Thoresby College, Queen St. home of the King's Lynn Preservation Trust

Professor Colin Waters


Bergit Arends


Tim Holt-Wilson

Flora Bowden

Wayne Binitie

Luce Choules


Two spoons, ceramic by Elspeth Owen

Two concurrent exhibitions give an opportunity to explore contemporary ideas about fragile ecology, and the plight of nature. Taking a lead from the example of radical artist Gustav Metzger (1926-2017), we consider what are the options for thinking about destruction as also offering some hope for renewal?

The four women artists of different generations who feature in GroundWork’s Fragile Nature exhibition offer complementary and contrasting perspectives, political and artistic. We will consider the role of women and feminism in the artistic environment and the fate of land art, experimentation, performance,.

Metzger saw the relationship between destruction and creation as a creative catalyst and a metaphor for revolution and renewal. Can we share his optimism in the face of accelerating climate change?

A group of internationally renowned speakers have been invited to contribute wider perspectives from art and ecology. This event will bring together practitioners in the arts, activism and environmental science to consider how we think about our relationship to nature, resources, and resilience, in this time of environmental crisis.


Jeremy Purseglove - ‘Working with Nature’ author, scientist, engineer

Lotte Scott, exhibiting artist

Elspeth Owen, ceramicist- exhibiting artist

Adam Hogarth - artist, etching fellow Royal Academy

Jon Fanshawe, Cambridge Conservation Initiative & Birdlife International;

Andrew Watkinson, Emeritus professor biological and environmental science, UEA

Amy Cutler, artist, writer, film maker

Lizzie Fisher, curator of Destroy, and you create…Gustav Metzger in King’s Lynn;

Veronica Sekules, Director GroundWork Gallery

Cost £29.50, £25.00 concessions (students, unwaged) including lunch, refreshments & drinks reception at Groundwork)

Bookings and further details:


Previous event

Water Rising - art innovation change and development.

A day-long study day/conference

Globally and locally we face a changing relationship with water. We know that sea level rise is accelerating, predicted to gain steadily by up to a metre over the 21st century, enough for example, for London to become submerged.  Science and technical know-how is being crucially engaged and architects, engineers, planners and environment agencies are busy forming strategies to mitigate its dangers and come up with creative solutions. 

However, as many recognise, these developments need to be accompanied by cultural change and adaptation to new sustainable patterns of life. Interpretations by artists are are part of the formation of new cultural responses. Being acute observers of change, many are thinking creatively about direct encounters with water, proposing images about experiences, raising questions about its beauty and power. 

As the need for greater understanding of water’s future becomes more urgent, we need to bring together multiple perspectives to make new propositions about the resourcefulness we need as we form new and different attitudes to it.  Without this the watery surges of climate change will still defeat us.

The conference-study day will bring together perspectives from art, science, geography, engineering, architecture, cultural development.   The idea is to stimulate discussion, and for participants and audience to contribute to the richer dialogues that will result

Speakers include:

Clive Adams, Founder-Director Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World

Speaking on CCANW's work with UNESCO's new Global Network of Water Museums.

From being a curator at Arnolfini/Bristol in the 1970s, Clive Adams had a particular interest in artists, ranging from Richard Long to JMW Turner, whose work engaged with landscape. He founded CCANW in 2001 with the idea of using the arts to inspire a deeper understanding of our responsibilities within nature.

CCANW operated from a Project Space in a forest near Exeter from 2006-15 with a programme which attracted around 40,000 visitors annually. Between 2014-16 it delivered its 'Soil Culture' programme of artist residencies and exhibitions across the South West, and since then has been developing a number of new international and transdisciplinary partnerships.

One of these has involved advising the new Global Network of Water Museums, now part of the UNESCO family. This came about through a chance meeting in Venice in 2016, and was followed by presentations Clive, along with other artists and curators, have made to the 80+ strong membership in Venice and the Netherlands. A next international conference will take place in Valencia this June.

His talk will show how artists are addressing the serious 'water issues' that face us today, and how the involvement of artists through residencies and exhibitions can engage people in ways that complement the work of science and conventional education.on the recently UNESCO accredited world network of water museums, 

Richard Coutts, BACA architects,

Innovative architecture for watery environments; 

Richard Coutts co-founded Baca in 2003. Richard is a Chartered Architect with over 15 years experience. With a Master’s degree in daylighting and PV technology from Sheffield University, he is particularly interested in renewable energy, sustainability and low carbon design. He has directed large high profile projects such as the Eiland Veur Lent in Nijmegen - a new ‘eco-leisure’ destination in The Netherlands; the Waterspace Strategy for UNESCO World Heritage Site – Liverpool South Docks and an array of high quality one-off architectural projects for private clients. Richard has also designed several unique memorials for Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and is a professional illustrator. He formerly worked for Sir Terry Farrell & Partners and Dr. Ken Yeang in Malaysia and Australia, including working as resident site architect for the Guthrie Pavilion – Winner of Aga Kahn Best Building in Asia 2000

Jack Heslop WSP,

Rising water problems and creative engineering solutions:

In this talk I will break down the latest projections for sea level rise nationally and locally; and explore some long term pathways for coastal communities coping with change. I’ll present case studies from the UK and internationally on the challenges faced by coastal communities and how they’re dealing with a rising sea and increasing flood risk. It will cover the potential futures of King’s Lynn in the context of long term coastal management strategies

Jaap van der Salm, H+N+S Landscape Architects,

on flood resilience, safety and water management projects in Netherlands and beyond;

Jaap van der Salm studied Landscape architecture at Wageningen University and obtained his master’s degree in 2010. Since 2010 Jaap has worked as a landscape architect for H+N+S, one of the two largest specialist design companies in the Netherlands. He focuses mainly on large scale water related national and international projects. Jaap combines solutions for flood safety with ecological, recreational and urban development. He has further developed integrated design skills in a number of international projects, among others, in Turkey and the United States and likes to cooperate in multidisciplinary teams with both Dutch and foreign professionals. Jaap has won several design competitions: ‘New impetus for neighbourhoods from the 70s and 80s in The Hague in 2011 and the redevelopment of the former Polaroid ‘performance factory’ in Enschede in 2013.

Peter Matthews, artist & exhibitor,

on living in and with the oceans to make art;

Matthews lives his work, the shore and oceans are his studios. He often enters the water at dawn and may stay immersed until nightfall, and effectively "lets the ocean do the work for him”; sometimes the work is left exposed to the elements and tides overnight in which the piece continues its natural development. Matthews has described himself as merely being the "instrument" by which the sea "draw[s] itself.”

Roger Coulam, artist-photographer & exhibitor,

on storm chasing; experiencing extreme weather and its consequences;

Until 2007 Coulam had a distinguished career as a storm-chasing photographer, working around the world, sometimes taking guided tours for the benefit of other photographers. Now he is based largely in the North-East of England around Sunderland concentrating on his creative practice. His interests have ranged widely in the natural and historic environment and he has also made many series of semi-abstract images inspired by archaeological remains, details of nature and landscape.

Sophie Marritt, artist & exhibitor

on watery painting the fens;

Sophie Marritt originally trained and worked as a scientist and began practice as an artist following training at Norwich University of the Arts. Her work is mainly concerned with sea, landscape and nature.The collection of paintings on display in Water Rising was made specially to capture the watery landscapes of the Wash and the Fens of Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Humberside.

Emma Critchley, artist,

on artists working under-water generally.

Emma Critchley is an artist who uses a combination of photography, film, sound and installation to continually explore the human relationship with the underwater environment as a political, philosophical and environmental space. She is Royal College of Art alumna and has developed works funded by organisations including The National Media Museum, The Photographers Gallery, Arts Council England, the British Council, the Singapore International Foundation and the European Regional Development Fund. Awards include the Royal College of Art Sustain ‘Moving Minds’ award, winner of the British Underwater Image Festival, finalist in a number of Saatchi Gallery awards including New Sensations 2011. Her work has been shown extensively both nationally and internationally in exhibitions at The Australian Centre of Photography, the ICA Singapore, Gerhard Marcks Haus Germany, Eyebeam New York, The National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, the Royal Academy and Tate St Ives. A recent commission from Opera North Projects toured to the Southbank Centre and the BALTIC Centre for contemporary art. In 2017 completed a year’s residency called Culture & Climate Change: Future Scenarios. From this she is developing a public soundscape about underwater acoustic pollution and a film about deep sea mining, funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

NB. May 13 2019

Sadly, Professor Lindsey McEwen is now unable to join us due to ill-health, so the time-table will be adjusted, and we will have a multi-disciplinary panel in place of her talk.

At Thoresby College

May 17 2019

10.30 - 6.

Price £26.50 including lunch.

Bookings: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/water-rising-art-innovation-change-and-development-tickets-59087414046


Previous conference

Friday 30 November 11.00 - 5.00 pm

Theories of the Earth

30 November 2018   Thoresby College, Queen St & South Quay King’s Lynn  10.30 - .4.30  

A Study Day - interactions between history, science and artistic practice

What are theories of the earth? What do all the terms mean? Is theory useful? What is relationship between theory and practice?  A number of experts involved in disciplines relevant to Theories of the Earth - art, science  and environment -  will talk to us about theory - and how it relates to practice.

10.30 -  Arrival, registration, coffee - welcome by Veronica Sekules & team. Moderator Andrew Watkinson

Session 1 Anthropocene and contemporary art. 10.45 - 11.30

Prof. Colin Waters, University of Leicester and former principal geologist, British Geological Survey 

The Anthropocene Epoch: the expression of the human footprint on the Earth

Human activity is leaving a pervasive and persistent signature on Earth and it has been proposed that this warrants recognition as a new geological time unit – the Anthropocene Epoch. Evidence includes the appearance and rapid dispersal of many new materials, including metals, plastics, concrete and artificial radionuclides from the atmospheric testing of nuclear devices. Combustion of fossil fuels has led to a global trace of fly ash and has changed the chemistry of the atmosphere, resulting in increasing global temperatures and sea levels.  Biological evidence includes the consequences of extinctions, unprecedented movement of animal and plant species and increasing abundance of domesticated species.  Human influence on geological signals commenced many thousands of years ago. However, the most pronounced upturn in most global trends is in the mid-20th century, a time referred by some as the ‘Great Acceleration’.  Though concentrating on the scientific evidence, the presentation also includes examples in which the arts community is contributing to the debate.

11.30 - 12.15

Bergit Arends. Deputy Head of Collection Care Research, Tate

Art Intertwining Geology and humans

I'll talk about a social-documentary project on brown coal mining by a Vietnamese photographer in 1970s GDR - Intertwining the geologic and humans.  The Anthropocene is proposed as the most recent geologic time unit, in which human activity has changed the Earth more than natural processes. The proposition is a forceful concept that has ignited widespread debates and has inspired artists to conceptualise and visualise the consequences of this knowledge.

The Anthropocene term urges us to consider the profound human influence on the planet, which will leave its legacy for millennia. How are artists responding? Artists’ works provide critical commentary on state environmental politics; make public scientific procedures of decontextualization and abstraction; and evolve new forms of observation through interdisciplinary intersections. Notably, they express the human distress felt by transformation of landscapes through drought, large-scale mining or climate change.

My talk will focus on the photographic book by Nguyen the Thuc Kohle unter Magdeborn [Coal underneath Magdeborn] (ca. 1976), which documents the environmental and social impact of open-cast brown-coal mining on a local community in the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s, reflecting the effects of the ‘oil crisis’. The project was shown in the archival exhibition Freundschaftsantiqua [Friendship antiqua] (2014) in Leipzig, together with new photographs of the former mining area by Christiane Eisler.

12.15 - 12.45 discussion

12.45 - 1.30 Lunch

Session 2 After James Hutton:  Historical theory and artistic practice.

1.30  - 2.15

Tim Holt-Wilson, Geologist, writer,

Enlightening the Earth

James Hutton radically applied Enlightenment thinking to the Earth as object of enquiry. How does Hutton’s approach fit into the current of scientific investigation of natural and cultural phenomena which characterised the 18th century Enlightenment? My answer will include a consideration of the John Frere’s celebrated paper (1797) on Hoxne brick pits in Suffolk, which provided a revolutionary evaluation of the great antiquity of human kind.

2.15 - 2.45

Flora Bowden, artist, RCA

Visual Language and Geology

In this presentation I will talk about the visual language of early geological studies. In particular I will talk about the iconography of James Hutton's Theory of the Earth and how this has been developed through my practice

2.45 - 3.00 discussion

Session 3: Glacial Water

3.00 - 3.30

Wayne Binitie, Artist, RCA

Aesthetics of Water

Wayne Binitie’s ongoing research Aesthetics of Water explores the urgent and ethical stewardship of glacial water at a time of accelerating climate change. Binitie’s project aims to examine how contemporary art practice reveals and communicates the urgency of climate change to new audiences.  

Anchored by his own audio-visual fieldwork at the British Antarctic Survey ice core archive and the pioneering Arup SoundLab, Binitie's multidisciplinary artistic work in sculpture, glass and sound explores the significance of glacial water across its three states of solid, liquid and vapour.

3.30 - 4.15

Luce Choules, International Artist

The Glacier and the Rock  - Guide74 performance lecture

Luce Choules presents a live performance lecture using spoken word, projected imagery and literary readings. The artist will take the audience on a poetic journey to the high features of Alpine France. Made during a decade-long study in the Haute-Savoie, this mesmerising work explores art and ecology, environmental change and the contemporary wilderness.

4.15 - 4.30  Concluding discussion & summing up Andrew Watkinson

4.30 onwards gallery open for viewing