Iron Reef: lecturer's public art project shortlisted for Norfolk Art Trail

The project celebrates the historical and ecological heritage of Reedham Ferry inn and the Norfolk landscape.

Date: 5 January 2022

A project from London Met lecturer Cristina Morbi and her team, Aurora Destro and Cristina Brena, has been shortlisted for inclusion in the Norfolk Art Trail.

The Norfolk Art Trail is an exciting, outdoor public art trail spanning 250 miles of Norfolk, England. Proposals were invited from artists to respond to locations along the Norfolk Way Trail and to design multi-sensory, accessible public artworks to engage local communities, reveal hidden stories and inspire visitors to explore the county between October – March.

Morbi and Destro's project, entitled Iron Reef, celebrates the historical and ecological heritage of Reedham Ferry inn and the Norfolk landscape.

The artists explain, "It's a homage to its Chalk Reef and the industrial and nautical heritage of Reedham Ferry Inn.

"Iron Reef is inspired by the anthropized amphibious landscape. As an Amphibious structure, it can live on both earth and water. Shaped by the winter tides and emerging as a landmark between the reeds, it connects the sky and touches the water. 

"People are invited to follow the light metallic structures, which rhythm the gentle ramp and lead to a raised point of view of the landscape surrounding. The lower promenade acts as a pier, reconnecting the community with the water.

"The tides from the river modify the material, adding patina and oxidation as a performance of colour or a maritime ruin. Plants and microorganisms start to appear on the structure. The Iron Reef is planted with particular amphibious plants, oxygenating plants to improve the unique micro-habitat and biodiversity and multi-species.

"Plants climb the structure through time: Hydrocotyle leucocephala is a creeping amphibious plant that can grow submerged or emerge from the water. Below the water level, its leaves are dark green, large and fleshy, while the emerged ones are smaller and light green.

"Thanks to the symbiosis that is created between the chosen aquatic plants and the bacteria that live in the roots, the watercourse is purified of polluting elements. Plants offer a multisensorial and seasonal experience of the surrounding: the Acorus Calamus, for example, is characterized by leaves that release an intense lemon scent, is an aromatic plant used in herbal medicine and in many recipes.

"Our hope is for the Iron Reef to be a community and an environmental machine: changing through time, shaped by water, plants, animals and humans."

The shortlisted entries are featured in an online exhibition, and the public are invited to vote for their favourites to be brought to life in Norfolk. Voting is open until midnight on 11 January 2022, with the selected artwork for each location to be announced on 25 January 2022.

Vote for Iron Reef here.

image of a sculpture in a rural landscape