Released on 19th March 2012

Water lives…

Look beneath the surface: our rivers and lakes support an amazing diversity of life, from tiny diatoms all the way up to us humans

These beautiful, complex webs of freshwater life often go unseen, and their importance un-noticed

However, this remarkable diversity of freshwater life is vital in supporting our everyday lives

Are we capable of creating policies to manage water not only as a resource for humanity, but also as a medium for life?

BioFresh is a European Union project which is putting together the scattered pieces of information about life in our rivers and lakes, to better understand, manage and protect our freshwaters for generations to come.

"Water Lives..." is a science communication animation designed to draw attention to the important (yet largely invisible) life that underpins and sustains our freshwater ecosystems. Produced by Paul Jepson and Rob St.John at the Oxford University School of Geography and the Environment for BioFresh - a European Union project on freshwater biodiversity - the animation brings artists and scientists together to collaborate and communicate the concept that freshwater is more than an inert resource: instead a living, dynamic system inhabited by beautiful, important organisms largely unseen by the naked eye. "Water Lives..." invites viewers to view our rivers and lakes in new ways, value the services they provide and discuss how they should be managed.

The curious and otherworldly physical form of freshwater organisms such as diatoms provides abundant artistic inspiration. "Water Lives..." is a six minute piece animated by Scottish artist Adam Proctor. It is sound-tracked by a specially composed piece of music by Tommy Perman from Scottish, BAFTA award winning arts collective FOUND which samples a series of haiku about freshwater ecosystems written by environmental poet John Barlow. The content of both the animation and haiku was influenced by close consultation with BioFresh freshwater scientists Rick Battarbee from University College London and Ana Filipa Filipe from the University of Barcelona, alongside Alistair Seddon from the University of Oxford Zoology department.

More information and artist statements:

Adam Proctor – animation -
John Barlow – haiku -
Tommy Perman – soundtrack -

Science advisors

Rick Battarbee – University College London
Ana Filipa Filipe – University of Barcelona
Alistair Seddon – University of Oxford


Producer- Rob St. John
Project Leader – Paul Jepson

Produced for BioFresh by School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

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