The Deepenings Project 

Honouring and preserving the words of others. 

Reading their words out to the land, to the sea, to the wildness, to the ancestors that brought us back to this land to speak out, call out, chant, incite, remember. 



To listen to the text below from the researcher's voice (Elinor) and song by Gemma Garwood,

Click below:  

My PhD project is based on stimming through practice, autistic stimming as artistic methodology and I want to introduce you to this project which lies outside of my PhD project but aligns within it, as it is through the listening of site and place as one that is human as one that is , that I create my soundscapes and the soundscape I shall be creating for this island will feed and inform my PhD project. 


Autistic stimming in art practice - what is it? It is pointless being precious about your work (when it will be honoured and preserved).


It is pointless being tight fisted, stingy, and unable to share your methods of practice with other autistic/ADHD artists, especially if they sing along to your hymn. We are all sharing. making attuned to an energy that feeds our soul from the site and places we stand upon. 


I see so much of how I edit and make music and imagery with Gemma's. Who came first? My videos from 2017 and 2018 echo in her videos from 2020 - 2022 - have we copied each other? Nay.... for Gemma is taking on from where I left off and she was always making but making differently in 2017. Gemma, has a voice that fills up the entire forest. 


Her voice moves all of the trees. 


In 2020 - 2021, I had to churn myself to fit into their boxes, whilst Gemma chaired the days of practice to make in the unchurning ways of how we must lay bare the presence that lays within us all but society tends to crush us, tell us to quieten down, sister, be quiet, do not speak or say or express this way, be only who you dare, in quietened notebooks. So I have gone silent in my making, while baking in the oven, a baby, and then Gemma invited me outside, into the garden, filled with flowers yet to be open. 


There is only love for Gemma, that she has found in this island 

a need to share tell its story 

and that we will be embracing this together. 


I am stronger when I am sharing practice 

Gemma's boldness disseminates all that we need to breathe 

and keep on breathing 


we swim in the cold tide. 


Bethan hands me a stick. 

We stand with our sticks in the earth 

And Gemma gathers and brings to the spiral, salt, and land, and it lasts and lasts, through the rain, through dirty weather pricking the landscape. 


I hear a lot in circles "this artist copied this artist" but within autistic language, autistic awareness of self, there is an awareness of shared voice

shared telling

to share to collaborate in practice


Instead of being jealous, instead, I, with awe,  see my soul imprinted, laid bare on terraces, and stares, and thick white sheet cloths on washing lines and I stare at myself there and think, you are moving all of the trees, the trees are being moved by your words now, as you are remembering the land, and the quiet hum of this island. 


There is no copying or borrowing through autistic stimming, instead there is a respect, a sharing, a kindred acknowledgement. 


It is an honour to make with artists who honour the land. It is a privilege to collaborate with artists who bring to the table a feast. It is a privilege and an honour to be creating here together, to be retelling the old stories, and remembering the passing of time, of the feet that crept here, of the boldness, brazeness, beautyness of all beings. 


Living and pumping around 

my blood and fire

soul gut throat I breathe, wheeze, sing 


And she, they all already know the tune. 


What is produced for the island will be platformed at a Folk Festival produced by Gemma Garwood, and I shall bring an exposition as a case study to explore the autistic ways of making through the lens of autistic stimming and rituals. 


The landscape informs our footprints upon it. 

This project is a reaching out in the dark, a feeling out towards the light, a hearing a distant calling, a woman out on the land, she lives in a stone home there, an old fortress, eaten by the waves. 

The wind it whistles through the land 


The land, an armed band of group of people, walking 

walking the stone rock flint here like tooth, like bone 

the music the music hear the drumming root me here 

the music the music 

hear the harmony 

my feet shake off the history, 

my feet my feat 

my feat. 

Gemma's shell and stone spiral sculpture, 2022

the sun feels different here i hear its high pitched singing


it clears the air 

freshens up the sky




C major. 

Gemma made this spiral 


Another day, on the place where we shall replicate the mount creating our own 


she spun a spiral 

of salt 

on grass

the park keepers 

all thought it was eerie 

magic happening

because though the rain rained on the spiral 

it did not disappear

nor remove itself from the landscape. 

Click here for the Soundscapes Elinor created. 

On the Essex coast there are places that still feel wild, places that remember when the water was lower and remember when it was higher.

Here the elements sing and squabble.

Doggerland feels close.

Ancient spirits tell of the homes lost to the water, the hand that built them and the giant creatures that once sailed up there in the water above where our heads are now.


We invite you to join us on an adventure that aims to illustrate poetic versions of the deep past and imagine prophetic versions of possible things to come.


Three female artists collaborate to read and retell the landscape, developing an AR and online experience that can bring magic outdoors to Cudmore grove…or transport the special landscape back home to you.

Winter Talks - The Deepenings Project

16th December 2022 



Dr James Dilley - Experimental archaeologist and flintknapper

James Canton - Wild Writer

Jo Hickey-Hall - Folklorist, researcher and social historian

Gemma Garwood - Artist/Project leader The Deepenings Project

Elinor Rowlands - Sound Artist The Deepenings Project

Bethan Briggs-Miller - Artist/Folklorist The Deepenings Project


On the Essex coast there are places that still feel wild, places that remember when the water was lower and remember when it was higher.

Here the elements sing and squabble.

Doggerland feels close.

Ancient spirits tell of the homes lost to the water, the hand that built them and the giant creatures that once sailed up there in the water above where our heads are now.


We invite you to join us on an adventure that aims to illustrate poetic versions of the deep past and imagine prophetic versions of possible things to come.


Three female artists collaborate with the local community and some very fine experts to read and retell the landscape.


This project understands that change is something to be accepted, anticipated and possibly even celebrated in these coastal environments.

So we propose to imagine what the palliative care for this particular place might involve.

How might we capture and preserve it as we love it in this moment.

How have humans sought to understand and tell of change, past, present and future, since time immemorial?


We are working to collect and contrive an anticipatory folklore.

To gather up the magic of the place in stories and songs that can be passed down long after the water has claimed the soil.

To build a monument where we can celebrate and grieve the place.

To enjoy it for as long as we can and record it for that time in the future when we can not.

The Deepenings Project is a collaboration between artists Gemma Garwood, Bethan Briggs-Miller, Elinor Rowlands and the Community on Mersea Island.

The artist talk I gave on 16th December 


Thank you, hello, I'm Elinor Rowlands, an artist working in collaboration with Gemma and Bethan


I make phantasmagorical layered films, performances and soundscapes to engage, inspire and mesmerise audiences of all ages and from all walks of life. I believe my Neurodivergent experience holds power and magic. My work explores this power and sense of being through an autistic and ADHD filter. Autism exists in my work intentionally, without being overtly placed at its centre. Autism in this sense, is experienced as an alternative form of consciousness distinguished as an oscillation of psychic energy between the unconscious and conscious mind informing one’s whole field of perception: cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual’ and this pretty much is how I create my soundscapes - from an Alternative Form of Consciousness. 


For this project, I am the Sound Artist and I shall be creating a soundscape of the island. 

So first off, what is a soundscape? Well if we think about a landscape - it’s usually a view of somewhere beautiful, or sometimes it can also be quite ugly. But it is usually a scene that interests people, that gets people excited or intrigued or it can make them feel relaxed, like a scene of the vast and snow capped mountains and rocky peaks, or the wild heather and green hills of Wales, or the bubbling sea, transparent, turquoise and free; or, the icy glaciers in Norway, or the rolling countryside and wild beaches of Mersea Island make for a tranquil and beautiful view and landscape. 

Each time we view a landscape, a story is being told. 

So with a soundscape, this is similar to a landscape but instead of seeing the “view” as it were, we hear sounds, so it can be a mixture of dialogue or monologue, gathered or found sounds like birdsong, the sound of the sea, the sound of a passing train, A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology and I feel this terms fits nicely with our project, The Deepenings. 

Soundscapes also overlap with the traditional ideas around Folktales. So how are folktales or folklore closely related to soundscapes? 

Well folktales come in the form of stories in the oral tradition, or tales that people tell each other out loud, rather than stories in written form. They're closely related to many storytelling traditions, including fables, myths, and fairy tales. However, folktales are largely used in soundscapes with the retelling of people’s memories or childhood experiences and for this project I shall be gathering people’s experiences and stories related to Mersea island. 

As an artist, I am interested in your stories. This project wants to hear your voice and your experiences. You are of the island, and the island is of you and this is an important element for the creation of a soundscape. 

 The soundscape will be created almost like a collage of sounds. If you can imagine the purpose of storytelling is to connect with an audience and it lets you show the world, or this island, in a different light, it helps people visualize themselves within the story even for people who may have never visited the island before and it gives purpose to change or action, whether this be for climate change, for more funding to the Mersea Museum, or the preservation of the parks and beautiful wild beaches here. Or a call to notice, to pay attention, and to remember the astonishing beauty here. 

Soundscapes, as I’ve said before are immersive, and my soundscapes bring individual sounds together to create something like a landscape for your sense of hearing. 

Soundscapes may include gentle rain, wind in the leaves, and chirping frogs to help guide you to sleep to the sounds of a spring forest. When I gathered sounds on the island, I gathered the cold and holy silence from within the Mound at West Mersea Barrow, the bobbing of all the boats in and out of the harbour, the sounds of every wild beach we walked on, the stories Gemma read to the sea, the sounds from within Mersea museum and the very old house we stayed in, the chiming of the flags and metal against flagpoles, the birdsong, the wind, and the waves. I even captured the sounds of the beaches at different lights. Light changes the way the landscapes sound. The silence on Cudmore Grove feels different because when I stood on the grounds where Gemma created spirals that survived days of rain, sun, all weather, I felt watched, and as I watched the sea, this anxiety of the sea eating the land can be preserved by our heartbeats, what do these energies do to our own bodies and senses?

So finally, it is an honour to make with artists who honour the land. Bethan and Gemma both live in Essex, and are more local than I am. I met some of you when I visited a few months ago. It is a privilege to collaborate with artists who bring to the table a feast; and likewise meeting the Mersea Museum volunteers, with their own rich tapestry of stories and gathering of all that you have collected, it will be a privilege and an honour to be creating here together in the workshops coming up in the New Year, and in the retelling of the old stories, and remembering the passing of time, capturing the present moments of the island, and the beauty in the things yet to come. 

This soundscape will follow in the footsteps of the feet that have crept here before us, it will honour the past, the present and the future, of the boldness, brazenness, beautyness of all beings on this island.

before i start a sound piece i need to bring back elements of place to feel touch smooth over, to knock together, to tap 

tap tap 

frap a tap tap tap 



the museum of acceptance 

the museum of objects 

of elements 



behind glass, they 

open wide their sighs, mouths, open wide their souls 


i position myself in their 

i position myself in their place 

in there 

in the pockets of existing 

i place myself 

Elinor's mermaid, left behind by the sea's weeds. 

A ditty - ER, 2022 


Can you hear this here island whistle 

it hums a familiar tune 

i feel the heartbeats of women 

sound not so distant to my own 

and i own the wind here 

the way it screams shrillings sound in my head 

and i have heard all their stories before 

they are not new to me 

and the man buried in the hill is from 

luxembourg/southern belgium/luxembourg

like the buck toothed girl from luxembourg 

southern/belgium and the wind here is familiar 

to me the heartbeat is eeriely similar

the world here is spinning slower 

there are moments for sea to breathe on the edges of the sandscape seashore, homeshare sandied homes, brick broken bracken brack back tack lack more mock me more here i am here i am here i am here i am here i am here i am here i am here i am 

here i am 

i am calling 

i am calling to you 

and you are calling me back. 


(R&D on mersea island, text by Elinor Rowlands, 2022

Photography by ER, 2022

The objects and my rattle leaves from the acorn tree from atop of the mount, remain imprinted in a white glass cabinet, on show, in my private museum. 

before i make a sound piece i need to collect from the land, from the earth, from the scape. 



A feather lying on pebbles. 

- Photography by Elinor Rowlands 

the pouring of the pourous land 

equating outside of itself 

the populated roots of trees screeching out of the land, a softness of beach sand, seascape, beachscape land feast, sky and rapid stars shooting across the sky. 

Pinprickness out of the way the woman raging her home on the land of the sea of the working men clothes off by the fire, her naked body to rhythms of the waves and her naked self to the rhythms of the heartbeats rising and falling under deep breaths. 


text by elinor rowlands, 2022

Roman Glass Funery Urn & Lead Cist from West Mersea Burial Mound (tumulus).

Ashes of the man buried in this green glass bowl, now preserved and on show in the Mersea Museum 

Like lost piano keys

discards on the beach

steps to heaven 

broken, dismayed

the boats bob on the sea like ghosts 

like ghosts the boats bob on the moving 

swirling sea 

the sea erupts 

big and boldly and bursting and flowling and this video does not do it justice 

the sea swims past the bottoms of boats 

the pink sky gazes grazes and sea ages 

bursts bubbles through calm dry sky 


clamilty clamity calmity calming Tea. 

Tea offered in warming cup 

each boat 

a shelter 

a vessel 

a holding on




of truth 


er - 2022

walking with       heavier

skirts walking       with

sound crackling in my throat walking    through

the hillside of      stories of people past       stories of skimmed            pebbles

along the rocks     stories repeatedly         stirring 

Photographs and videos by er 2022

Atop the mount is an acorn tree

it doesn't just drop its leaves but its branches too 

acorn leaves on a branch 

becomes a rattle 

i shake it and it 

shrilly gleefully plays

through the quiet breeze here there is a rattle 


of rain 

rain rain go away

come again another day 

rain rain 

scuttling into the grass

drops and storm and sky. 

The sky stretches the clouds here. We three on the beach are the only ones 

our energy frees the sky from the tightness of cloud breath structure. 

Photography by er 2022

Atop the mount is an acorn tree. 

Its leaves drop with its thin branches