Midsummer Water Day: A day of water-themed events

Midsummer Water Day: A day of water-themed events

Midsummer Water Day will bring together a range of artists and academics to offer a full day’s programme of activities for all ages in venues around King’s College London and Somerset House to complement Amy Sharrocks’ Museum of Water on 21 June 2014, 12pm-6pm


waterThe programme includes talks, events, installations, screenings, family workshops and singing.

Hear from artists and academics who create work that relates to water, who can offer an insight into the politics and history of water, and who can get families experimenting, playing and reflecting on water.

Literary Highlights:

Spoken Word Room – Curated and hosted by live literature producers Penned in the Margins a special programme of water themed live performance poetry running throughout the afternoon.

Old Water Words – a selection of readings of Old English poems about water with translations, and a soundpiece (recital) of Anglo-Saxon water words, collected via the internet from the international community of medievalists.

Poet Alice Oswald has written a water poem exclusively for this event. 100 people will be offered a ‘sip’ of water from her Dartmoor pool, and in exchange they will be given a print of her poem.

Musical Highlights:

Chris Watson:  Sound Installation

Leading wildlife and natural sound recordist Chris Watson will present his latest installation The Translucent Border, which follows the transformation of water from solid glacial fresh water ice to liquid seawater, recorded in the Antarctic.

The Big Water Sing

Inspirational choir director Ali Orbaum leads a singing workshop teaching water inspired songs leading to a special public performance. The music will be taught by ear so no previous experience or knowledge is required. Ali is a vocalist, arranger and teacher who has been running successful choirs and workshops around the country for the past 17 years. Musical Director of Sing for Water West, she also directs Bristol’s acclaimed Gasworks Choir and co-founded the award winning acappella group Naked Voices.

Dr Noel Lobley – “The Sound and Music in Water”

In this illustrated talk ethnomusicologist and sound curator Dr Noel Lobley will explore some of the ways that diverse communities communicate the sound and music in water. Dr Noel Lobley is a sound curator and ethnomusicologist who is currently working at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, where he is developing the music and sound collections through a series of curated experiential sound events.

Water films:

London’s Water Supply (1972)

An overview of London’s water supply, sources, reservoirs, water table including water treatment and distribution. A technicolor version of a 1967 film produced for the Metropolitan Water Board that shows how the Board supplies some 6.5 million people in and around London with water for all their needs.

Unfamiliar London: Water (1973)

This programme opens in the water-testing laboratories at the Metropolitan Board of Water (MBW) and examines how London water is periodically screened for contamination. Photographs show the path of tributaries channelled into London and how they were distributed between social classes. The wealthier people would have received water to their homes, while the poor had only the local well as a source of water. This was later found to be the cause of epidemics including Cholera.


The film features stories of Mekong citizens up and down the river, from fishers on the Tonle Sap, activists still fighting at the Pak Mun dam in Thailand, to a vice minister from Laos convinced he can build one of Southeast Asia’s most sustainable dams. Filmed in four countries, and four languages, it includes footage of China’s Mekong dams, as well as the controversial Xayaburi dam in Laos.

‘Dammed’ 50 minutes, Daanish Mustafa (2003)

A film about the struggle of the indigenous people against the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River.

Duminea: A Festival for the Water Spirits (1966)

In many African countries people believe that water sources are inhabited by spirits who control the flows of water, the abundance of fish and the well-being of people and animals using the sources. Ceremonies to pay respect to such spirits are common. This is a rare anthropological recording of such a ceremony from the Eastern Niger Delta.

Midsummer Water Day Talks:

Professor Michael Trapp ‘Somerset House Fountains Old and New’ – Michael Trapp Professor of Greek Literature & Thought at King’s will talk about the history and fortunes of these fountains back in time and discover their surviving traces, on the Somerset House site and further afield.

Londoner Caitlin Davies Why we love and fear the Thames: a history of swimming our river’ – The River Thames has been a favourite bathing spot for centuries, but it was the Victorian era that saw the birth of organised river racing. writer, teacher, journalist, and general fair-weather swimmer Caitlin Davies will talk about at a swimmers’ relationship with the Thames, drawing on original research from a new book, Downstream: a history of swimming the Thames, to be published by Aurum in April 2015.

The Swimming Manifesto: Just what is so great about jumping in? – part stream of consciousness, part campaign for greater awareness and better swimming conditions, part attempt to put into words and share the extraordinarily essential and occasionally transcendental feeling of swimming, The Swimming Manifesto will be part of a speaker’s corner from 12-6pm on The River Terrace of Kings College and Somerset House. Speakers are invited to have their say.  This event is free to watch, take part in, and open to everyone. Excerpts of The Swimmers’ Manifesto will also be published online.

The Geography Room at the Midsummer Water Day will be the centre for activities which reflect the range of human and physical dimensions and water including:

The Politics of Water Presentations

Daanish Mustafa on Karez and Traditional Irrigation in the Arid Realm; Richard Schofield on Laying bare the rhetoric of contestation in international river disputes.

Naho Mirumachi, How do you solve a problem like rivers crossing borders? The politics of sharing water; Richard Bater, Making Water Visible; Alex Loftus, The Right to Water; Frances Cleaver,  The Weight of Water

Physical Geography of Water 

Michael Chadwick, What Lives in London’s Water?; Nic Bury ,What lurks in the water we drink?

Nick Clifford/Ben Smith, Water Flow Table; Prof Clare Lees and Dr Gillian Overing, Women of the Deep: The Earliest English Water Tales

Professor Alan ReadWalks on Water: Talks on Water. Estuary. Where salt meets fresh.

Full programme can be found at : www.kcl.ac.uk/cultural and www.somersethouse.org.uk/museumofwater

Museum of Water Website: www.museumofwater.co.uk