What happened to our river Rothay: a new exhibition

An exhibition which records the violent impact of Storm Desmond on the Lake District landscape will open here next month.

Indeterminate Land is a collection of photos by Chris Routledge showing the impact of the storm’s aftermath on the Rothay river valley near Rydal.

It will open at the Heaton Cooper Studio archive gallery on October 10.

The photos, in black and white, illustrate the “many strange and beautiful changes” that took place after the storm in December 2015 which smashed rainfall records and caused widespread flooding in Cumbria.

Chris, who has a house near the river, began photographing a short section of the Rothay during the storm, and in the months that followed, and the exhibition will include around 30 pieces of work looking at changes made to the landscape by the storm, and severe flooding.

The project, he says, explores our relationship with the landscape, and the subtle ways in which it changes at the edge of what we see.

“Working with various approaches to image making, including pinhole photography, I also tried to explore the feelings of shock, and to some extent trauma, that followed from the storm, and to think about how the much-mythologised landscape of the Romantic poets and painters manages to defy myth making.”

A freelance writer as well as photographer, Chris has worked on many different kinds of non-fiction writing projects, including blogs, books and journalism. He describes himself as a serial shed builder, rides a tandem, and is a regular podcaster at the Ormskirk Baron beer reviews blog.

In 2017 Chris organised If Not Duffers, a marathon reading of Swallows and Amazons, which took place on the shore of Coniston Water in the English Lake District, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Arthur Ransome’s death.

He is currently organising a similar reading of Ransome’s Pigeon Post, to be staged at Coniston Coppermines at the end of September.

The artist Julian Cooper, who is curating the exhibition here, said: “This new book and exhibition is a deep and closely observed study of the stretch of the river Rothay as it passes through Rydal. These quietly powerful black and white photos show the fragility and resilience of this Romantic landscape during and after the floods of Storm Desmond in 2015.”

Indeterminate Land will run from Oct 10 to November 3. The limited edition book of the same title will be published and can be pre-ordered here


FloodingHeaton cooper studioLake districtPhoto exhibitionRothayStorm desmond