The conceptual artist Richard Long would have enjoyed using these industrial machines. On the road leading to the village of Coveney, old irrigation ditches are being refurbished. Giant earth moving equipment cuts through the clay subsoil in V cross sections, like a knife through butter. Water immediately flows into the channel and mirrors the sky. These large scale sculptural interventions will never find their way to the Tate Modern turbine hall…but they really should.
Coveney is a village north of Cambridge in Cambridgeshire in the UK. It is part of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands, an extensive flat terrain of fertile agricultural land once flooded but systematically reclaimed with the help of Dutch drainage engineers. I frequently cycle along these narrow and uneven roads, avoiding the pools of water and stretches of mud churned up by fleets of farm vehicles that criss cross the fens at this time of year. When I see something of interest, I stop and capture the scene with my camera.