Illustrating the Anthropocene: Fieldwork from the Norfolk Broads
Funded by the Broads Landscape Partnership Scheme and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, myself and three colleagues at Norwich University of the Arts are currently contributing to a cross-disciplinary research initiative which includes projects from archeologists, geologists, historians, conservationists and biologists. Titled Mapping The Broads, the initiative aims to diversify and strengthen public engagement with the national park. Through individual investigations we are using illustration as practice, method and process to explore the landscape.
Anthropocene describes the epoch in which humankind shapes, effects and alters the earth. The marks of which will be cast in future strata, locked into the material memory of the planet’s landscape. The term is currently being critically debated by scientists, philosophers, environmentalists, anthropologists and geologists; are we currently existing in the Anthropocene? What does the Anthropocene imply about our relationship to the current landscapes we inhabit?
By looking at the human sculpted water ways of The Norfolk Broads through the lens of the Anthropocene, I aim to surface narratives of labour and industry crystallised in the materiality of the landscape. Chalk, flint, clay, peat and sand have been structured and ordered through quarrying and building, but in the same terrain natural matter runs to meet the eroding edges of time. In this initial phase of the project I am sifting through the landscape using film as an editable tool to capture, synthesise and illustrate the traces of human narratives deposited in the geologic topography of the national park. Framed by the emerging critical discussions around the Anthropocene, I will excavate and speculate on the future of the Norfolk landscape.
I propose a 20 minute visual presentation of my initial fieldwork, discussing key questions raised by the investigation. I aim to reflect on the role of illustration as a method to add to the wider understanding around the human mark on the planet’s future history.
Sinead Evans is a maker, writer and teacher. Lecturer in Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts and Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, she is also commissioning and contributing editor of Limner Journal. Research interests currently concern the visual language of materiality and its signiﬁcance within expanded illustration practice and methodology.