OOZE ZANG 11 July 2015

Here’s a rough edit of our first fast & loose Ooze Zang, participants came from far and wide to sound out the topographical Kent dialect text stenciled across the Rochester Riverside site.  Sue our BSL interpreter brought an extra, performative and visual element to this interpretation of the site and enriched the conversation about how to translate and filter our perceptions of our environment.

We recorded on the hoof and the ‘waller’d’ was mighty ‘galey’, the mic unavoidably captured a strong easterly gusting off the Medway that day ..so the recording has the site-specific buffet of wind, plus fizz & clatter of the nearby train line for extra aural location!

If you’re interested in finding more Kent dialect words check this lexicon: http://kentpoi.co.uk/historic/dialect/index.html


MUSH = marsh BOUNDS = boundary GADS = grass, reeds OOZE = thick mud

CRICK = creek WRACK = seaweed SLAPPY= watery mud OOZE = thick mud

next OOZE event..Sat 11 July 2-3pm ‘OOZE ZANG’ (blue crane nr ME1 1HN)

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Meet 2pm Sat 11 July at the Blue Crane, Blue Boar Wharf – (entrance via Doust Way ME1 1HN)  discover the meaning of the words and gather for a 2.30pm collective sounding out of OOZE ZANG, a sonic celebration of the text work that appears in various topograms across the site including the wharf wall. All voices & ages welcome however sweet, gruff, squeaky or crackly!


We discovered various Kent dialect words, throughout our research, relating to the site and the river.  We selected some which represent the specific landscape of Rochester Riverside and also have good sonic qualities for vocalising out loud.

The event will be accompanied by a British Sign Language Interpreter and description for the visually impaired.

Launch Day – 21 June 2015

We were lucky to have the Kent Cultural Baton on site as a beacon to gather over 100 people who helped us launch the OOZE work with all kinds of person powered wheels from rollerblades to wheelchairs on 21 June 2015 exploring and muttering the topographical drawings and dialect based text as they rolled out along the riverside pathway. There was cake too!

Photos copyright Mike Snarr

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OOZE Install – Rochester Riverside June 2015


Several things stood out from our research and community engagement; the particular topography of the site – reclaimed marshland with an industrial history both on and off shore; oysters as a recurring symbol in our research and conversations – discarded oyster shells scattered all across the site echoing the vast oyster industry in the river until late 19century that the Freemen of the Medway & IFCA tell us are reseeding in the river (past, present,future); the rises, falls and movement of the riverside path as it follows the shoreline bounding reclaimed land, mudflats and deep river channels.

Ooze is a response to this, using topographical drawings of oyster shells and Kent dialect words that relate to the landscape to form sonorous ‘topograms’ we created large scale multiple stencil works across @500 metres of the site.

Caitlin and I were very pleased to have the assistance of several artists from the Medway area to work with us in shifts over the install period.  Thanks again all of you.  Check out their varied practices in the following links:

Karen Crosby http://www.karencrosbyart.com

Claire Manning http://clairemanning.co.uk

Adam Newton http://www.adamnewtonart.com

Sarah Louise theskivingscholar.wordpress.com

Lisa Vigour blog.vigourouscreations.com

Drop in day

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We had a good day at the Guildhall Museum with a steady stream of people into the River Medway room. We were asking people about their thoughts and connections to the River Medway. Various thoughts/words came up about feeling vulnerable, riptides, erosion, calmness, how the colour of the water constantly changes with the light, the tide going out to reveal all the shopping trolleys!

We talked about our discoveries and research and got some contact email addresses to let people know about future events and once the work is installed.

It was food for thought and good to re-connect back with the museum after our initial findings.

word slips wharf steps

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Tempting phrases and lists of words relating to the River and Rochester Riverside keep cropping up in our research.  Words interesting for their sounds, historical or descriptive context and newness to us.  We went looking for maps that indicate the names once given to all the wharfs along Rochester Riverside, Edwin Harris’ book The Riverside (several in the Medway Libraries Catalogue) logs the names, & some associated 19th early 20th century anecdotes.  My favourite in The Riverside is Furrell’s Wharf, one of the sites where “..circuses, menageries, puppet shows & travelling theatres.” pitched up to entertain the Towns. The archivists at Medway Local Studies Archive in Strood showed us maps dating back to the 19th century that show some names but not all.  They do show how the shoreline changes depending on the usage, slips, wharfs and steps appear and disappear.

Derek Coombe’s book The Bawleymen has been an interesting source for research, Horace Moore shared his knowledge with the author Derek too (out of print but also in Medway Libraries Catalogue).  There’s an excellent glossary of nautical terms, but Horace has told us some more local words not featured including ‘Smig’ passed down from the Victorian Freemen he was indentured to.  I particularly like the Freemen’s nicknames listed on p77; as Horace says..”If you didn’t have a nickname you didn’t have a character.”


knitting nets & knots

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Horace Moore kindly gave us more of his time, knowledge and skills last week.  The net bag on the left was made decades ago in hemp twine by a Freeman’s wife.  On the right is a small test piece made by Horace.  We were interested in knowing how to knit a fishing net, to see if this might be an element of the work we create for In-Site.  An afternoon isn’t long enough!  Another reason to appreciate why the Freemen do a 7yr apprenticeship before they have the right to fish with nets in the Medway..  Here Horace is showing Caitlin and I to knit a net using the Sheet Bend knot.

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Freemen of the Medway

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Yesterday I went to meet three generations of Freemen of the Medway, members of the Rochester Oyster & Floating Fishery Guild (ROFF) who embody the River Medway having served their 7 year apprenticeship (14yrs-21yrs) on the river & been sworn in to the guild.  This thriving guild was formed in medieval times and the rights of it’s memebers to fish the Medway is mentioned in Magna Carta.  Horace Moore (left) shared some photographs, knowledge and memories of his extensive life working and fishing the River since the age of 6, he’s a former Chamberlain of ROFF. Ryan (left in the right hand photo) has just completed his apprenticeship.  Shane Hales (centre) is the current Chamberlain of ROFF and is pictured here with Brad Moore (also a Freeman) in their Hales & Moore Fishmongers, Rainham.

They were all very generous with their time and information, I’ll post more about the visit soon..meanwhile here are a few photos taken during my conversation with Horace about fishing for brown shrimp, eels and flounders etc…the types of nets he made and about life working the tugs and lighters that transported pulp and coal upriver.. (Jane)

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