Heavy Water Collective and the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge

13 July – 7 September 2024

Featuring artists: Victoria Lucas, Joanna Whittle, Maud Haya-Baviera

Heavy Water Collective have responded to GroundWork Gallery’s extraction theme for its summer residency programme, by presenting a body of work that brings together research developed primarily in response to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge.

The Heavy Water Collective make artworks that respond to archives and museum collections in order to deconstruct and reconfigure the human and more-than-human histories embedded in the British Landscape.

Heavy Water Collective at Sedgwick museum

“The Heavy Water Collective seeks to renegotiate the position of the human in the context of the environmental crisis. Through this endeavor, we draw on moments of historical turbulence in order both to make sense of the current moment and to find methods by which to navigate the global uncertainties we all face.”

Heavy Water Collective, 2024

The artists and the exhibition

Victoria Lucas

In this exhibition, Victoria Lucas deconstructs and reconstitutes earthly material through an engagement with folklore and symbolism. She creates installations that interweave mythologies to reveal the nature of belief systems and power dynamics as constructed. Focusing on the work of William Smith, who developed the first geological map of Britain, in addition to the folkloric world views his work unraveled, Lucas explores notions of value through an investigation of Yorkshire coal mining and the mythological histories of ammonite fossils.

Joanna Whittle

Joanna Whittle seeks evidence of human rituals and emotive truths within archival material and collections, seeking figures who move through layers of history, puncturing time to bring new narratives formed of many voices. She traces the human within the topographies of landscape, where cataclysms such as war rupture both, enabling strange shapeshifters and anomalies to emerge from these fissures, as harbingers from the past.

Through her research at the Sedgwick Museum and its collections, Joanna explores the geological expedition as ritual and memorial across bucolic and arctic landscapes and uncovers the absences within these rituals brought about by interruptions of war and history.

Maud Haya-Baviera

While enchanted by fossils, minerals, rocks and other fascinating discoveries found by the first natural scientists, Maud Haya-Baviera’s work draws parallels between these findings, our colonial past and more recent forms of imperialism. Meteorite collections at the Sedgwick Museum have also inspired Haya-Baviera to pay attention to recent space explorations, which are for her both a source of awe and concern.

Her work addresses issues related to the exploitation of natural resources from deep sea oceans to far beyond the earth and its atmosphere. It celebrates the wonders of new discoveries and exposes the relationship between exploration and exploitation.

Together, these works entangle the weight of geological temporalities with untold human histories, holding subjects such as folklore and the problematic legacies of empire in a scientific context to re-categorise the world through the wealth of artifacts held across the UK in archives and collections.

Heavy Water Projects and Exhibitions to date

Heavy Water Collective Post Natures, Graves Art Gallery Sheffield
Heavy Water Collective exhibition Post Natures, Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield

The Heavy Water Collective

The Heavy Water collective formed during a residency with the Freelands Foundation based at Site Gallery in Sheffield. It was at this time that the collective members discovered overlappings in their work and wider practices, particularly in their archive and collection based research in the production of new work. Since their first presentation at Site Gallery in 2021 they have gone on to work on numerous projects together as part of their galvanized practice through an ongoing commitment to their collective research ideologies.
2023- 2024 PostNatures, curated by collective member, Victoria Lucas, is an exhibition centered around JMW Turner’s painting The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage at Mâcon. The exhibition features a range of artworks and objects from Museums Sheffield’s collections that depict representations of the relationship between women and nature, alongside recent works from Lucas and the Heavy Water Collective.
2023 Bloc Members Show, a curated installation combining works developed in response to archival materials found in the Portland Collections (Whitaker Museum), the Special Collections at Cardiff University and Sheffield General Cemetery Trust. The themes relate closely to the materiality of the land and humans’ engagement with it culturally, economically, politically, socially and spiritually. Positioned together, the works present the viewer with alternative readings of historical artifacts, while revealing the need to re-categorize, de-colonise, re-imagine, repatriate and re-interpret private and public archives and collections held across the UK.
2023 Conference: Heritage, Community, Archives: Methods, Case Studies, Collaboration, presentation of the collective’s research and development methodologies at an archive research conference at Hallam University, Sheffield.
2023 Publication with a commissioned essay by Lauren Velvick of Corridor-8 and designed by AW-AR in collaboration with the collective to launch the digital archive and to coincide with PostNatures
2023 Development of an online digital publication and archive with AWAR studios which links sites of engagement and research within a constellation bringing together conversations, archival material and creative outputs into a holistic topography.
2022 Material Rituals, a micro Residency at Sheffield General Cemetery based at the Samuel Worth Chapel, interrogating historical narratives through botanical, geological, architectural and archaeological histories of the site including a final presentation at the site.
2022 Charms and Chasms, Research Residency at Cardiff University Special Collections funded by the arts councils of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland through the Four Nations International Fund, hosted by G39 Gallery, Cardiff and in conjunction with Künstlerhaus Dortmund. This included a final presentation at G39 and online presentations with G39 and Künstlerhaus Dortmund
2021 Heavy Water at Site Gallery, the collective’s first public exhibition, combining work produced in independent research in the development of a conceptual terrain in which the works are inserted, developed in collaboration with curator Angelia Sule.

Biographies of the Heavy Water Collective artists

Heay Water Collective artists at Sedgwick museum

Maud Haya-Baviera

In Maud Haya-Baviera’s practice, cultural artefacts become a catalyst for change. An extraction of history takes place, as narratives, places and images are mined, cut and reformed. Constructed sounds wail out from its history, squeezed through time and flattened out into a dissociated and unsettling other narrative. These works form a paradox of an archival record of these now-times, as we sift through what has been to find answers, solutions and new ways of being among the ruins of colonialism.
Haya-Baviera has exhibited her work in a solo capacity and in group shows nationally and internationally and has received a number of awards in relation to international projects and towards the production of new works. She has recently been chosen as an artist-in-residence at the Holocaust Centre North, and has been awarded an Iby Knill Bursary to conduct a period of research and to create a new body of work. Recent exhibitions include PostNatures, Graves Gallery, Sheffield (2023-2024), Brewers Towner International, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne (2022/2023), Things Fall Apart, Haarlem Artspace, Wirksworth (solo exhibition) (2022), Stories, Bankley Gallery, Manchester (2022), Aggregate, Freelands Foundation, London (2022), Big Screen Southend, Focal Point Gallery, Southend on Sea (2021), Talking Sense, The Portico Library, Manchester (2020), Some Palaces, Künstlerhaus Dortmund, Germany (solo exhibition) (2019), SALTO Verbindt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019), Doc/Fest, Global Citizens Strand screenings, Sheffield (2019), In Common, The University of Derby, UK (2019), Anonyme Zeichner, Galerie im Körnerpark, Berlin, Germany (2018), Moving Image Festival, Balaclafa Carn, Caernarfon, Wales (2018), Traverse Vidéo, Institut Supérieur d’Arts, Toulouse, France (2017), Objets Singuliers, 34th Festival International De Court Métrage, Aix en-Provence, France (2016), Contemporary Art Ruhr, Directors Lounge, Essen Zollverein, Germany (2016). Recent commissions include a podcast for Montez Press Radio, archived and broadcasted in Sheffield, UK, New York, USA and Berlin, Germany (2022), and a public artwork for ARTHOUSES LOCALwifi, displayed in the coastal town of Whitley Bay (2021). In 2020, Haya-Baviera completed a two-year artist residency programme at Site Gallery, as part of Platform20 and the Freelands Artist Programme. Her work has appeared in various publications and has been written about by Zoe Sawyer (Curator at Eastside Project), Lauren Velvick (Director at Corridor 8) and Angelica Sule (Programme Director at Site Gallery).

Heavy water collective artists

Victoria Lucas

Victoria Lucas’s artwork “deals with how nature is constructed, and how the concept of nature in turn constructs our political and social imaginary, with a particular focus on how gender is produced, reinforced and can be undermined through the self-representation of women within the landscape” (Velvick, 2023). Her recent practice is predominantly contextualised by the landscapes of Northern England. In the craggy rock of post industry and at the conceptual edges of human-centred culture, the skins of ontological categorisation are permeated through a subversive process of material reckoning. Technology becomes a co-conspirator; nature a mentor. Through a process of lingering with nature on sites of human-led disturbance, Victoria visualizes new aggregates that de-centre the human subject as part of a post-humanist entanglement of matter.
Victoria Lucas has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally for the past twenty years. Recent shows include PostNatures, Graves Gallery, Sheffield (curated project) (2023), Aggregate, Freelands Foundation, London (2022), The Strata of Things at Threshold Sculpture, Leeds (solo exhibition) (2021), Heavy Water at Site Gallery, Sheffield (2021), Where Rock and Hard Place Meet (solo exhibition) at Haarlem Artspace, Wirksworth (2018) and The Search at The Hepworth, Wakefield (2021). Recent commissions include Tessellate, a body of site-responsive work for Iodeposito, Udine, Italy (2022), Strange and Glorious Becomings, a collage commission for the cover of CHAIN/MAIL #4, published by Corridor 8 (2021); and Conflict, a video artwork for the National Portrait Gallery, London (2014). She has recently undertaken artist residency programmes with OSSO, Portugal (2020), IoDeposito, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy (2022), Freelands Artist Programme, Sheffield and London (2019-2021), Haarlem Artspace, Wirksworth (2018) and Nayland Rock Hotel, Margate (2018). She won the SOLO award™ in 2016 and has artworks in both public and private collections, including Tate Britain, Leeds Arts University and the Media Math Collective. Her work appears in various publications and journals, critiqued by writers such as Stephanie Hartle (Academic and Curator, SHU), Meghan Goodeve (Curator, Freelands Foundation), Angelica Sule (Director, Film and Video Umbrella), Colin Perry (Art Monthly) and Lauren Velvick (Director, Corridor 8). Lucas is a 0.5 Senior Lecturer / Researcher in Fine Art at the University of Central Lancashire and a part-time PhD Candidate in the Art, Design and Media Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. She has recently presented her artistic research at the Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, London (2023), An Elastic Continuum Symposium, S1 Artspace, Sheffield (2023), the Art and the Rural Imagination Conference, convened online (2020), and the Overwhelming Imaginations Conference, SiShang Art Museum, Beijing (2016).

Heavy Water Collective artists

Joanna Whittle

Joanna Whittle’s seductively detailed and miniature paintings draw the viewer into an uneasy, unpeopled world. The temporary structures depicted sink into motile, flooded land, acting as fragile ruins of the recent past with the unsettling sense of a recently departed presence. Makeshift shrines are depicted in dark forests, evidencing the human trace in accumulated acts of mourning. Her ceramics emerge as artefacts from constructed mythologies, weighted with ritual and ideas of having being held close. Throughout her work Whittle explores themes of ungroundedness and loss; of shifting perspectives and hidden activities and their fragile residue in the landscape. In both practices she presents the intangible as credible and explores different methods of display to authenticate this uncertainty.
Whittle is a member of Contemporary British Painting and was the prize-winner in 2019 and winner of the New Light Valeria Sykes Award in 2020. She has been selected for the John Moores Painting Prize exhibition in (2018 & 2023). She has undertaken numerous solo projects which include Ghosted Ground, a research project funded by an Arts Council England project grant based at the National Fairground and Circus Archive, including numerous collaborations and resulting in a solo presentation at the University of Sheffield (2023) and the creation of a new collection within the archive; On Shifting Ground, Whitaker Museum with research of the collections and a solo presentation (2022); Material Mourning, a research project with an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield, presented at Millenium Gallery Sheffield (2022) and Between Islands, a research and solo exhibition project based at the Welbeck Estate, Sherwood Forest, supported by an ACE DYCP grant (2020) . She has shown extensively in group exhibitions including, most recently, Beyond the Gaze, Saatchi Gallery (2023), Tyranny of Ambition, Highlanes Public Gallery, Ireland (2023); Arcadia for All? Rethinking Landscape Painting,a touring exhibition, Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds and Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester (2023-2024); Entwined: Plants in Contemporary Painting, touring exhibition, Huddersfield Art Gallery and 20-21 Arts Centre(2023); Aggregate, Freelands Foundation (2022). Her work has been written about by Griselda Pollock, Albert Godetzky (Courtauld Institute) and Lauren Velvick (Corridor-8)