Tracey Warr

Tracey Warr is a writer working ‘in the vicinity of art’. She has published two award-winning novels and many books, essays and articles on contemporary art. During AASB she will be talking with the resident artists about her future fiction novella, Meanda, written for the Exoplanet Lot exhibition taking place in France this summer and about underground experiences in the old lead mines near Allenheads, and in the Pechmerle caves in France.

Writing Workshops

Stars and Planets Writing Workshop for children aged 8-14

11am – 4pm, maximum 10 children

Do you like reading science fiction and are you interested in writing a story about outer space? Perhaps you sometimes look at the night sky and wonder about the stars you can see. What might other planets be like and are there alien life-forms living there? Astronomers have discovered many exoplanets beyond our own solar system. Some of those planets are all water or ice, some are all gas, some are blisteringly hot. Some have two or three moons and one might be made from diamonds. What kind of planet can you imagine and what might happen there?

As Above So Below


Expert contributors



A Midsummer Night's Drone 2016


The Extraterrestrial

We are familiar with the planet’s surface waters – oceans, rivers, springs, geysers, and icebergs – and with the cycle of water - evaporating from the surface into clouds, falling as rain, hail, snow and dew, lingering in aquifer rock reservoirs underground - and with the way that the actions of water, gravity and climate have formed landscapes of cliffs, mountains, valleys, coasts, and caves. Water drives weather, shapes geography, is the lubricant of life.

Perhaps most of us are less aware that water is extraterrestrial. Latest scientific theories argue that water on the Earth is older than the rocks on Earth and has travelled here through space from a gigantic ‘spring’ in the Milky Way. The location of the spring is visible to the naked eye in the winter as the central ‘star’ in Orion’s Belt, a vast cloud of colliding hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Perhaps most of us are also unaware of the 150 miles thick layer of ‘deep water’ held in hydrated rock and minerals around 400 miles down in the Earth’s core.

For this text I was interested in an expanded notion of the water cycle, imagining its journey from the Milky Way, through Earth’s atmosphere and surface waters, through bodies, plants and trees as biological water, deep into the Earth’s mantle and back up again through volcano vents and seeping ocean beds.

Circular Ground Text


springing in the milky way

travelling through space

incising cliffs and caves

in slow undulating embraces with


glossing stalactites and stalagmites

puddling condensing humid and damp

mist braiding around itself

residing in clouds for nine days

falling as rain and dew

hungry and leaching minerals

playing with light and oxygen

rolling back and forth with the moon

turbulent in vortices eddies and spates

calming reveries


stroking purple waterlilies

navigating archipelagos

splashed by coypus

resonating creaking frogs

meandering sluggish with dissolved material

blooming viscous ice

and bludgeoning shards of hail

geysering high

thundering in glassy sheets

hanging in fat droplets reflecting the world

sitting in tiny balls cohering

blue green brown silvery with moonlight and dawn

streaked with flashes of turquoise bioluminescence

gyring and gimbling

ripples riffles glides and deep liquid pockets

glitter paths of tiny reflected suns

tangling tresses of aquatic plants

beneath inscrutable surfaces

exquisite complexities of liquid light and reflections

slick sleek sinuous

moving towards high tide

slapping boisterously in muscular currents

galvanised by brine

slacking just before ebb tide calming at sunset

clattering pebbles below sea frets

crazing and crusting salt marshes

flowing through cells plumping skin

swirling in the delicate fronds of lungs

slithering together the alchemy of thought and emotion

tasting saliva

moistening membranes

caressing muscles

flowing with consciousness

floating eyeballs pricking with the salty pressure of tears

slimy slithers of snails

inky squirts of squid and fish spitting sticky threads

mottled green mucus slide of eels

fish turning and bending in silvered flashes

flowing upwards towards the sky as sap inside a willow

sloshing deep in the mantle

leaking through cracks in ocean beds

as serpentine and olivine rocks

spewing from volcanic vents

in search again for other  


In June 2016 I experimented, installing text on the ground around the Armstrong Hydraulic Engine in Allenheads village. The engine hisses perpetually with the sound and power of suppressed water.

I also experimented with writing on the ground using pigments collected underground in the Nenthead Smallcleugh Mine and from the Iron Well in Allenheads.


For more on water see Roger Deakin, Waterlog; Charles Fishman, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water; Felix Franks, The Physics and Physical Chemistry of Water: A Comprehensive Treatise; and Tristan Gooley, How to Read Water. One of the researchers working on the ‘space spring’ in the Milky Way is Gary Melnick at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a researcher working on the water in Earth’s mantle is Steven D. Jacobsen at the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Northwestern University.

The Mission for the future from Alan Smith on Vimeo.

Portrait by Aline Bouma

The workshop was run by published writer, Tracey Warr. Her previous workshops for children have included Water Workshops at Modern Art Oxford - and at Annantalo Art School in Helsinki -

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