For Duddon

Amy Johnson

An exploration of the River Duddon, both remotely and in reality, through photography, collage and geocaching.

William Wordsworth published ‘River Duddon, A Series of Sonnets’ in 1820. The work comprises of 34 sonnets mostly composed over a two year period. The river is a curious choice for such dedication and consideration. It meanders through the south-west of the Lake District for around 15 miles before reaching the Irish Sea and can be easily overlooked when compared to the surrounding landscape.

Regardless, Wordsworth had great affection for this stretch of river, an affection that was rooted in fond memories from childhood and subsequent explorations as an adult. The sonnets were well received and inspired others to explore the river and the surrounding Duddon Valley. Readers of his work often feel compelled to track the course of the rivers, to trace the route and to search for the physical embodiments of the poems.

In researching this project, I followed the same compulsion – I explored the route and obsessively tracked points of interest using paper maps and phone apps. However, the reality of the river began to feel increasingly remote as we entered an endless cycle of travel restrictions and lockdowns due to COVID-19.

With that in mind, I decided to find my own River Duddon in my immediate surroundings. A
place that might be regarded as unexceptional and insignificant. I found Lowca Beck, a river in West Cumbria that in many ways is unlike the River Duddon. It’s a small seemingly

unremarkable beck that passes through a post-industrial landscape, alongside a busy dual-carriageway, before reaching the sea. Through exploration and photography the work reflects on the representation of place in art, memory and imagination.

Physical representations of the poems have been left at two sites, one at Lowca Beck and one in the woodland at Wordsworth Trust and can be found via geocache.

Source is a development lab for emerging Cumbrian Artists working alongside Cumbrian Cultural Organisations, artists and curators. Led by Signal Film and Media in partnership with Cumbria Museum Consortium.

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