In literature and art, rivers are frequently used as representative symbols because of their very nature – a continuous moving body of water that finds its way through vast canyons and tiny cracks until it reaches the ocean on the distant horizon.  Along its journey, cities and towns spring up on the banks, brought to life by its movement, the nourishment it brings and the transport and communication channels provided.

Analogue memories – a VHS tape discarded in the bed of the new river channel.   Photograph kindly supplied by Andrew Holmes.


As such, rivers have been used to symbolise the unswerving and determined power of nature; the start, undulating middle and end of a life story; the boundaries between civilisation and those outside it; a continuum or the passage of time; and even a symbol of Life itself. Like threading veins pumping the life blood of a body, rivers feed the landmass that surround them and form a vital, integral part of their landscape.

But the individual is ultimately responsible for the health and welfare of their bloodstream. Who takes responsibility for that of a river, particularly when it travels several miles through different territories – crossing both political and geographic boundaries?