14:30 – 16:00
/ 67’ + Q&A

This programme is captioned. It is also partly online 29 April – 2 May.

Julia Parks will be present for the Q&A.

Julia Parks is based in Cumbria, England, and is a current artist in residence with Alchemy Film & Arts. Julia’s practice spans film, animation and photography. Through 16mm film, she explores different relationships between landscape, places and people, often with a focus on the west coast of Cumbria. In 2020-21 she took part in the Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) Fellowship. Photo credit: Sandro Araujo.

by Rachael Disbury

In April 2022, Cumbria-based artist Julia Parks began a residency with Alchemy Film & Arts as part of The Teviot, the Flag and the Rich, Rich Soil – a programme of artist residencies, film commissions and community engagement exploring the borders, boundaries and lines of Hawick.

Julia creates layered visual testimonies of place through film, photography, archive, voiceover and animation, often focusing on rural or coastal communities and industries. The four films in this programme exemplify Julia’s focus on the interactions and interdependencies between people, landscape and industry.

In Workington Red (2019), Julia explores the ways iron, coal, steel and nuclear industries have impacted landscape, ecology and life around West Cumbria. The artist’s participatory methods are represented through the integration of interviews with local people, the inclusion of varied and intergenerational perspectives, and a commissioned musical performance by a local male voice choir. Conversations circle around a balance, or tension, between the natural wealth of earthly resources and the learned and honed skill of labourers.

Solway Steel and Cyclamen (2019) provides an animated portrait of seven industries across West Cumbria. A mechanical body soars across a hall of delicate pink flowers, providing water; the legs of a machine in a flour production factory shake and dance; the robotic arms at a factory producing New Balance trainers grab and delegate. Fleshy limbs and bodies of IRL humans are animated to keep up with the demand.

If the first two films in this programme centre on mechanisations of matter, the second two highlight the agency of natural matter. In HAAF (2020), Julia turns her attention to methods of traditional fishing, working alongside some of the last remaining haaf netters on the Solway Firth. This film, shot in black and white and hand developed, evokes a bygone era through texture and tone, while interview commentary meanders between yearnings to preserve the millennia-old tradition and complex discussions of the arbitrary nature of borders. Through the telling of Scottish-English fishing rivalries, water is revered and imbued with power beyond tools and industry – it is the tide that dictates the line in the Solway Firth between the two countries.

Expanding into the sea, the programme concludes with Seaweed (2022) – Julia’s latest film, investigating the folklore, ecology and history of seaweed in the north of Scotland. Archive footage and oral histories situate the farming of seaweed within the development and movement of Scottish communities. Seaweed harvesters, workers in alginate factories, archaeologists and activists weigh in on the miracle material, with the many uses of seaweed compared on more than one occasion to the magic of a witch’s cauldron. Dialogue unfolds around needs and desires to control and tame this natural element, while Julia’s underwater closeups animate the seaweed as a thing that pulses, breathes, lives.


Julia Parks
20’25 – UK – 2019

Julia Parks
12’12 – UK – 2019

Julia Parks
16’35 – UK – 2020

Julia Parks
18’03 – UK – 2022

Title image: HAAF, Julia Parks, 2020