Veronica Vickery

Department: Environment and Sustainability Institute
Discipline: Geography
Research Centre/Unit: Geographies of Creativities and Knowledge

Project Summary

Fractured Earth: towards an expanded imaging of landscape through art practice

An unnamed stream runs off the moor following a line of fracture in the Lands End granite, for a mile until it joins the Atlantic at Porthglaze Cove. On 5th April 2009, a localised storm came in out of nowhere straight off the Atlantic. The trickle of a stream swelled into a raging torrent in the space of two hours, resulting in the collapse of a bridge and tragic loss of life.

The harsh Atlantic-facing granite coastline in the far west of Cornwall is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It could also be described, however, as a fractured landscape. The postcard images that feed the popular imagination feature stunning coastal walks romanticised mining ruins and cream teas. But these images distort and deny the complexity of this post-industrial region.

This research approaches the stream through the lens of a materials-based artist practice to consider how working with the life of the stream might lead to the generation of images in the studio that challenge sedimented forms of representation and received notions of landscape.

Line made by stream

Image: Line made by stream (Watercolour on digital print, 2014)

Set against the backdrop of the picturesque frame of the heritage landscape, I am working with the fludity of water and the earthyiness of soil; the liquid materiality of water and the deep temporality and verticality of soil act to undercut or disrupt received notions of landscape. Water renders well-trodden terrain impassable, inaccessible and hostile – the coastal footpath was closed for six months after the flooding. The structure of soil casts a forensic shadow reaching into the non-human past. The research is working with the swollen stream and the geology of the unfolded cliff-line as affective sites of intersection and disruption.

Rebounding against and through this material investigation, the research will establish a dialogue between non-representational and vitalist accounts of landscape in geographical studies, and parallel work in visual and cultural studies that re-imagines the future of the image to consider the potential for the creative production of images that unsettle the frame of landscape. How might working with the life of the stream lead to the generation of images in the studio that unsettle representations of landscape and contribute to understandings of landscape change? 

Supervisory Team

Dr Caitlin DeSilvey, Professor John Wylie (Exeter) and externally Dr Iain Biggs (Visiting Fellow, UWE).

Wider Research Interests

  • Geoaesthetics
  • ​Geopolitics
  • Geographies of coastlines and seas
  • Expanded forms of art practices, performance, painting and transitivity
  • Geographies of digital media and digital production
  • Geographies of activism

2014 Postgraduate representative, Histories & Philosophies of Geography Research Group, RGS-IBG

​2012 Member of Geographies of Creativity & Knowledge research group, Exeter. Geocak

2011 ​Member of Land2 artist research network, linked to PLACE

Recently I have also been involved in organising a campaign to send a #HospitalShip2Gaza which has started to fold into my wider research interests.

Authored Publications/Reports

Veronica Vickery (2014) Book review, Journal of Historical Geography: Tricia Cusack (2011), Art and Identity at the Water’s Edge, Ashgate, Journal of Historical Geography, Online. Print - forthcoming.