Toting industrial-strength waders and a camera David Rowan spent the best part of two years exploring the River Rea, from its source in the Waseley Hills down to Spaghetti Junction where it converges with the Tame. For the majority of its course the Rea is concealed in culverts and tunnels. Part of the fascination of this series of short videos is gaining access to a secret, slippery world, and seeing it negotiated by car-drivers, waterfowl and footballing kids.
The Dark River builds on Rowan’s previous survey of underground Birmingham, Pacha Kuti X, and was partly inspired by the work of Roy Fisher, a Handsworth-born poet and jazz pianist who has often written about the city’s hidden waterways. The piece has been commissioned for Flatpack as part of Birmingham-on-Sea, which will also include a number of aquatic walks and screenings.
The Dark River runs from Saturday 8 February – Sunday 27 April alongside Walk On, an exhibition examining the varied ways artists since the 1960s have used a seemingly universal act – taking a walk – as their means to create new types of art. The exhibition features artists such as Richard Long, Marina Abramovic, Hamish Fulton and Richard Wentworth.