A copy of Malcolm Lowry's book Hear us O Lord from heaven they dwelling place, on top of a rock on a rocky beach
Close up of a hand holding a Lego boat in front of the sea
Two vinyl records on a beach with sand partially covering them and a view of the sea in the distance

The network met at sea between Wirral and Liverpool and the Isle of Man, between 2021 and 2022, and gathered content for a series of podcasts. The aim was to develop a new sonic language for thinking about ocean pollution, and particular plastics, using Lowry’s texts as markers.

Dr Dunn said: “During the crossings, The Art Doctors - featuring our own Dr Liz Stirling from the Leeds School of Arts - engaged ferry passengers in using Lowry’s texts to make collages around ocean-related themes. On one crossing they even engaged a group of comedians who were crossing for a gig, including Paul Merton.

“One of our network members is Chris Watson, known for his award-winning sound recording work with David Attenborough. On the island Chris made some astounding underwater recordings of limpets and shrimp. There are other snippets of conversation within the abstract podcasts as well as soundtracks from Isle of Man musicians, young people playing with Lego and excerpts from ‘Luminescence’ from our own Sam Mitchell, a Senior Learning Officer in the Leeds School of Arts.”

The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Network Grant awarded in 2020.

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea, with a population of 83,000. It faces some important environmental challenges, including cataloguing Blue Carbon resources through the Manx Blue Carbon Project and maintaining its UNESCO Biosphere status, which was awarded in 2016, and threats from unsustainable fishing, windfarms, gas mining, pollution and single-use plastics.

Dr Dunn added: “Co-Investigator Dr Helen Tookey is a Lowry expert - and one of the most pleasing aspects of our network phase was the range of people who generously gave their time to chat, including beach cleaners, grassroots recycling agencies, local bands and members from the Isle of Man government. Other network members from Leeds Beckett included Dr Matt Green in the Leeds School of Arts and Olga Munroe in Leeds Business School - as well as Fine Art students, Frankie Mazzotta and Kristina Nenova, the Band of Holy Joy/BAD PUNK, and academics from Bath Spa University, University of Leeds, University of Chester and University of Hertfordshire.”