Outfalls: Tucker & Tarlo

Paintings and poems by Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo

23 June – 16 September 2018

‘Outfalls’ by Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo, is a joint project of paintings and poems undertaken on the Louth Navigation, a canal in North East Lincolnshire. Through juxtaposing open-form poems and monochrome drawings, they explored the relationship between the River Ludd and the canal itself as its industrial past became absorbed into semi-wilderness, creating niches for local flora and fauna in its culverts, bridges and locks. 

Outfalls draws on thirty years of experience of working with landscape. In their exhibitions and books they explore how the practice of drawing in relation to poetry might be employed in an affective understanding of place. Over the last five years they have developed considerable interest in North East Lincolnshire as a place of beauty, but also as one that invites questions about what is natural, and what is unnatural. The Outfalls project, focusing on the Louth Canal, was first sparked by encountering its outfall at Tetney Haven on the Humber Estuary. 

cracked coping stone held
heavy up by
brick & wire
empty where
gates hung but
still canalised         
streams ever
over growing
edge aslant

Harriet Tarlo poem fragment

The Louth Canal

The Louth Canal or Navigation was constructed between 1765 and 1770 and runs for just over eleven miles between Louth and Tetney Haven. Like many rural canals, the Navigation began to decline towards the end of the Nineteenth Century as roads and railways were developed. The final straw was the devastating flood at Louth in 1920, an event for which the town is known. In 1924 the canal closed and began to fall into slow dereliction. Tucker and Tarlo explore the visual and textual potential of this place, and its past, present and possible futures. They record the many inter-changes of water; crossings of energy lines; seasonal changes in plant life; the historical remnants of industrial infrastructure; the ghost of lost buildings and communities, the evidence of birds and animals (often only in traces) creating homes in and amongst the old culverts, bridges and locks. Their walking, drawing and writing along the canal, together with their subsequent research, was not intended to be either nostalgic or didactic but to reflect what they found there. It raises questions repeated all around the country about what will happen to these relics of our industrial heritage and surrounding landscape? 

cut banks out
water capture
course land    
capture course
water Lud let
in let out low
line landcut
line strip sky

Harriet Tarlo poem fragment

Extracts from our impact case study:

The exhibition had a natural target audience among writers / poets and artists and it was inspiring for other artists and writers who had previously been unfamiliar with the work.  A number of artists  said it gave them the courage to contemplate trying to combine visual art and writing.

Through the exhibitions themselves, which brought together aspects of cultural and natural heritage from Lincolnshire and the Fens, and North Norfolk, – especially waterways and fields, fens and coastal landscapes – a greater number of people were made aware of the issues – the tensions between industry and natural preservation; the issues about dereliction, decay and whether or not to restore and repair.

The works of art and poetry caused people to consider different options for how the landscapes could be interpreted and that art could enable a number of different attitudes to be reflected upon. They were often moved to spend considerable time in reflection and reminiscence.

The landscapes and writing were especially appreciated by people who knew the areas but had left them and sometimes could not go back. Because they evoked different landscapes in different ways, offering some creative writing and some found narratives & interviews, there were different options and ways for people to engage with what they saw and read..

The gallery has a developing relationship with B-tech students at the College of West Anglia and a regular turnover of work-experience students from there. The students learned from the exhibition, specifically how to be articulate about it and discuss its underlying issues and it was a great subject for that as so many people had some familiarity with its terrain. One group of students was brought along specifically to look at how to combine visual art and writing.

Art and Writing was also the subject for one of our study days held at Thoresby College, the centre for the King’s Lynn Preservation Trust.

Harriet Tarlo and Judith Tucker, Outfalls, series 1, on display.