Nuclear power in the earthquake zone

Being here in Japan for an extended period of time and visiting a number of nuclear sites has been a very unsettling experience, literally unsettling as I have had to get used to the aftershocks of local earthquakes – the one just before I arrived was enough to raise the alarm about nearby Tomari nuclear power plant which had to have emergency generators brought in for cooling after a power failure, and it wasn’t even running. That is one of the striking stories, the cost of keeping unused plant in working order but not running; that and the unbuild plant in Ohma which has been under construction since the 70’s. Leaving aside the economics it really doesn’t seem sustainable to keep on plugging away at making this industry fly. Here at Ohma we met an activist who keep an off grid home in the shadow of the construction site and has held out from selling the land for 40 years. A plucky story of resistance which ended up being one of my artworks for the show – blog on that to come later.


5.approach to the activist cottage

A good article on the problem with all the Plutonium in Japan. But don’t worry, the extreme right wing government has plans to change the constitution to allow Japan to militarise and they fancy making use of it somehow. Rokkasho reprocessing plant is still not operating although they put on a good show in the visitor centre!

Daichi record3

Fukushima is a world stage disaster and yet it doesn’t get talked about enough apparently, despite the government’s plans to release vast quantities of Tritium polluted water stored on site into the Pacific Ocean – trying to get it out of the way well in advance of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. All seems very unsettling indeed and makes me want to get back to my own little safe corner of Wales – Oh, but wait a minute Hitachi are there, building their ABWR there instead of building it in Japan.


Hitachi expansion

Power in the Land in Japan


Here I am in Sapporo, Japan with S’AIR on my nuclear culture residency. Five whole weeks stretching ahead of me but time is already whizzing by in the social whorl that is the art world in Sapporo. Second night there I gave a talk at the welcome party along with fellow resident artist Yang Lei from Bejing (who turns out to be a friend of Ai Wei Wei). The X-10 publication is sitting on the shelf and now the new work begins. A week to catch up on my existing projects before going to some nuclear sites.

Digging in to the site

As part of my ongoing investigations into the Wylfa site I have been working on the archaeology that is taking place in preparation for a possible new power station adjacent to the old Wylfa site. No doubt this is adding something to the cost of nuclear power as there are upwards of 80 trained archaeologists working to uncover the neolithic henge, 1st century village, 5th century graveyard and much else besides. We are still trying to get permission from Horizon to go onto the site itself but they have agreed to work with us to try and create something for the local community.


In the meantime a study day at Plas Gyn-y-Weddw with Simon Callery and Stefan Gant proved inspirational as they have been working in Denbighshire alongside the excavation of a hill fort there. I have been interested in Simon Callery’s work since he made the Segusbury Project, casting a whole section of excavation of chalk downs. Here he has worked in heavily pigmented cloths on the ground to explore the three dimensional experience of the landscape as revealed by excavations. The result is a four layered stitched cloth painting, the size of the gallery wall and inviting the viewer to walk around and experience the temporality of the land.


Stefan Gant is fascinated by the process of digging and has made many drawings of this action as well as many sound recordings. Here have has found new ways of combining these two into new and abstract digital forms.

Practicing Deep Time

Just back from a really stimulating weekend up in the far North of Scotland at Timespan, a great little gallery in Helmsdale – punching above its weight I would say. Bridget and I got a great deal out of it and will no doubt post more when we have a bit more time. The theme was about communicating deep time and it brought together practitioners but also a few from the heritage and archaeology worlds –  focussed on thinking about the past as it might illuminate the future in ecological terms.

A great key-note address by Anna-Sophie Springer about re-contextualising futures of ‘natural history’, a video exhibition by Gair Dunlop on the nuclear industry, discussion of a walk through an archaeological landscape, a visit to Dounreay,  lots of discussion and sharing of practice. The over-riding thing I came away with was the interdisciplinary of contemporary practice and the many creative ways in which artists are by-passing galleries and engaging in conversations in other places and other contexts. Very much where I see my own work going as I continue to work locally on the Wylfa site.

Hinkley Point, the story so far

Click on the link above for an overview of the Hinkley Point story.

In the meantime in Anglesey Horizon have applied for planning permission to remove all hedges, walls and natural features from a massive area just so as to be ready to build a new NPS should they get the go-ahead. Of course they are recording everything and plan to rebuild and replant every missing item should they be unsuccessful in their project. I am trying to get hold of their records – an item by item drawing of everything down to the last hedgerow plant and stone should be quite interesting.

Drawing on the Land :Archaeology at Wylfa


Wylfa is currently the site of one of the largest archaeological digs in Europe, as a statutory requirement of the proposed new power station development. Volunteers are here digging a section of a neolithic henge, a massive circular ditch around the crest of a hill.DSC_0173Each ‘event’ on the site has to be accurately recorded by meticulous measured drawings. Here, below, artist and fellow volunteer Trish Bould has prepared the site for detailed recording of a round house just outside the circular henge. This has been identified after first of all a geo-physical survey, secondly, a visual identification of slight variations of colour in the soil, ringed in spray paint, and then many days of patient scraping away at stake-holes to reveal the individual stake holes in their circular form. The process of digging is like sculpture in reverse while the process of revealing and recording is like drawing on the land.DSC_0165DSC_0134DSC_0164Even the little measured recording drawings of each stake-hole have their own fascination as we enter into the discipline of another kind of drawing process.double stake holes


20170915_092745On my way up to Allenheads Contemporary Arts to meet up with X-10,  I swung by Sellafield in West Cumbria. Astonishingly large site but quite hard to get up close to take it all in. It really is a small city of its own and one with the now familiar nuclear culture – no photos of course except from the publicly accessible views like this one. Here is where the fuel rods from Wylfa will end up once they have been extracted from the power station as part of the decommissioning process.

Kate Williams, Dounreay

Dounreay. Kate Williams

Kate williams model of Dounreay, made of uranium glass, was know to me already from online images when we started our project. Nice to see two versions of it recently, one in Thurso museum and one in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Spooky?