A year-long series of events and installations investigating our relationship to land and water and how we might respond to rising sea levels on the Welsh coastline.

In April 2022, lighthouses appeared at Magor Marsh and the Riverfront, Newport, with each light connecting us in Wales to our friends in the Bay of Bengal via live tidal data.

The project, THE (FUTURE) WALES COAST PATH is complemented by a programme of free events and conversations hosted by artists and scientists throughout the year, encouraging communities in Newport, Magor and the wider Gwent Levels to explore our relationship with sea and land through a range of creative and family-friendly activities. There will be opportunities for walking, making, and gathering, and will connect with communities in the Indian Sundarbans, who are at the frontline of rising sea levels today.

The project is funded by the Arts Council of Wales and made possible in collaboration with a range of partners including The Riverfront, Cardiff University, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Newport Fusion, Living Levels, Natural Resources Wales, Pervasive Media Studio, Severn Estuary Partnership, Newport Transporter Bridge, the Severn Vision Project and the Wales Coast Path. The international collaboration is funded by Wales Arts International.

The lighthouses will physicalise the future of our shoreline and highlight the habitat and communities that exist in this fragile space between past and future shorelines. Communities are invited to walk together from the current shoreline to the future edge of the land, to document, share stories, and begin conversations about the future of this place as we seek to acknowledge and adapt to our shifting coastline.

Arriving at the future shore, audiences will meet a lighthouse whose light reacts to tidal data from a buoy located in the Bay of Bengal, linking us to a community in the Indian Sundarbans where regular tidal inundation is already a reality. These lighthouses are a warning system, a navigation marker for the future and an indication that we are not alone and can learn from those at the frontline of the climate crisis.

The project is led by local artist Alison Neighbour, who is collaborating with producer Elen Roberts, researcher Dr Emma McKinley, and Calcutta-based artist Vikram Iyengar.

Alison is a Welsh multi-disciplinary artist and scenographer working in performance and installation. She creates interventions and adventures in unusual spaces, with a focus on connection and empathy. Her work seeks to use art to activate and empower communities and to connect people and places, transforming spaces and offering agency to the audience. She told us……..

“The idea came from a desire to start a conversation, to connect people to think about how we can adapt to the future. I wanted to physicalise this idea of impermanent land in the landscape itself, so that it can be felt in a way that a map or a newspaper article can’t offer. The lighthouse is intended as a point of convergence, a place for encounter, and a site of pilgrimage, from the past shoreline to the future”.

Alison Neighbour – The idea is to connect people to think about how we can adapt to the future

Vikram Iyengar is a dancer-choreographer-director and curator-presenter based in Calcutta, India, and working internationally. He is no stranger to South Wales with links to the National Theatre Wales. He told us…….

“I’m happy to be a partner on the project connecting communities in the Sundarbans delta with communities in Wales. Both regions are suffering from the impact of climate change to differing degrees, and creative conversations between them will be of immense value to understand our different contexts and circumstances and will enable us to build more empathetic transnational voices to tackle the climate crisis. We look forward to engaging with Welsh communities in deep, meaningful and mutually transformational ways during this project”.

Vikram Iyengar – We look forward to engaging with Welsh communities meaningful ways during this project

Dr Emma McKinley added……..

“Understanding how coastal communities are connecting with the changes happening in their local patch of coast, and how this links with a changing climate impact is a really important part of understanding coastal change. Exploring these ideas through the lighthouses and the creative engagement activities designed by Alison and Vikram will give us valuable insight into the relationship between the communities of Newport and Magor, and their shoreline”.

Pilot explorations with the landscapes and communities of the Gwent Levels and Newport took place in 2020, supported by National Theatre Wales, Creative Europe and Our Living Levels. In August 2020 Alison walked the possible future coastline from Chepstow to Newport, alongside local people, researchers, and land managers.

A photo diary of this journey and the conversations along the route can be found HERE. The project is complemented by a programme of free events and conversations hosted by artists and scientists throughout the year, encouraging communities in Newport, Magor and the wider Gwent Levels to explore our relationship with sea and land through a range of creative and family-friendly activities.

There will be opportunities for walking, making, and gathering, and we will connect with communities in the Indian Sundarbans, who are at the frontline of rising sea levels today. Further details can be found HERE.

There’s the closing programme of events from 22nd – 30th October.