MAC (Midland Arts Centre), Birmingham
Thursday, 29 June – Sunday, 5 November 2023

Rowena Harris, A Crip Body of Water (pacing is vital for energy flows), video still

Midlands Arts Centre and Elan Links present Watershed, a group exhibition exploring the relationship between Birmingham and Elan Valley, Wales; two communities linked by water.

The group show includes work by six resident artists who have reflected upon an area in mid-Wales on the edge of the Cambrian mountains, which has been the source of Birmingham’s water for nearly 120 years.

In the late 19th century, unsafe water led to widespread disease in the growing industrial city of Birmingham. An Act of Parliament was passed, enabling the compulsory purchase of the Elan Valley by the Birmingham Corporation Water Department. A series of man-made lakes were created on the land by damming the Elan and Claerwen rivers, and over 100 occupants of the Elan Valley were forced to move. The reservoirs have supplied Birmingham with clean water since 1904.

Watershed presents artistic responses to this controversial change to Welsh land, the connections between these two distinctive landscapes, and the part that people play in nature’s balance.

The featured artists took part in a unique residency programme led by Elan Links, including work by artist Rowena Harris made in spring 2023 during their residency with Elan Links and MAC. Read more about the residency with Rowena Harris here.