Rowena Harris

About Rowena

Rowena Harris is a visual artist focusing on disability, crip and sick perspectives, often through moving-image work.

Their work communicates through affective tones and reflexive narrative, and seeks to unsettle normative assumptions about thinking and feeling bodies in space and time. Research led and underpinned by a writerly practice that emerges through moving-image, site-specific audio work, along with reading groups and discursive forms, they explore bio-cultural, socio-medical and eco-crip dynamics. Explored with feminist, queer and crip theory, their work is increasingly concerned with invisible disability and structures of ableism, as well as vectors of power within society that shape how we feel, understand and make sense of our own bodies and worlds.

As the 2023 Elan Links – MAC, Birmingham residency artist, Rowena set out to explore the water and energy management systems of Elan Valley in relation to life-altering chronic fatigue. Conversing with long-covid Wales support groups, Rowena explored the landscape of Elan Valley guided by a quest for accessible routes and trails that could be used by folk with fatigue. Staying in Pen y Garreg cottage Rowena explored and developed a new narrative for the landscape for sick, crip and disabled bodies that are often excluded, through drawing parallels between the practices of managing energy by these bodies at different scales – bodies of water and bodies with fatigue.

A Crip Body of Water

They developed this narrative into an artwork that has two formats – an accessible audio trail designed for fatigue, available via smartphone, and sited near Caban Coch Dam; and a moving-image form that offers a remote connection. The narrative of approximately 30 minutes, is spoken from the position of water, in combined Welsh and English language. It takes inspiration from pacing practices for fatigue and radical habitation of space and time living with fatigue creates. They consider the hybrid form of the artwork as a creative response to access needs specific to fatigue, offering remote access in combination with a site-specific, accessible engagement with the landscape.

Entitled A Crip Body of Water (pacing is vital for energy flows), 2023 the video form is currently on view at the Watershed exhibition at the MAC, Birmingham until 5 November 2023. The Audio form can be accessed by finding the booklet at the visitor centre, or with the links below. 

The audio trail itself has two optional listening locations depending on your access needs and available energy – a gentle 30-minute walk towards the base of Caban Coch Dam, with seating along the route generously provided by Welsh Water; or a seated viewing point overlooking the dam and reservoir. More information can be found via the links below, and in the digital or printed booklets.

This work spans two forms:

A moving-image work
Single channel video, 4K, stereo sound, 31′ 05″
Currently on display at the Watershed exhibition,
MAC Birmingham, 29 June – 5 Nov 2023 

A fatigue accessible audio trail
Audio, stereo sound via smartphone, Sited at Elan Valley, 38′ 20″
Available via Spotify:

Insta: rowena_harris

Trailer – A Crip Body of Water (Pacing is Vital for Energy Flows), 2023 from Rowena Harris on Vimeo.