Nicola Rae: Raft for Self Seeders, Migrants and Locals, 2021
APT ART YARD, Deptford X Fringe, 6 Creekside, Deptford, London SE8 4SA. 17th - 18th July 2021.
Curator and technical supporter of the raft: Paul Malone


Deptford Creek has a very large tidal range and safe nesting and resting sites are much needed by the waterfowl. Two connected rafts were floated in the creek to provide a haven. One was planted with wildflowers recorded as growing on the intertidal walls between 1997-99 in Deptford Creek: Surviving Regeneration (Steele, 1999). Angelica Archangelicas, Sea Asters, Ivy Leaved Toadflaxes, Gypsywort, Celery-leaved Buttercups, and Water Figworts were all planted in biodegradeable pots made from wood and sustainable sphagnum peat and potted with coir compost. These wildflowers self-seeded adding to the food source for visiting birds. The second raft provided a resting place for waterfowl and was initially frequented by two Egyptian Geese and their goslings. Both rafts were made from disused palettes and wood salvaged from APT yard after their re-use was discussed with other artists.

The call of the Black Redstart that used to nest in Deptford Creek could be be heard near the raft. After a recent possible sighting, it was hoped that others may join. The Black Redstart is a nationally rare bird protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Before regeneration started during the mid 1990s, 7% of their population used to be found along Deptford Creek. In June-July 1997 a Black Redstart exhibiting breeding behaviour stopped all building work at Fairview Homes where Deptford Creek joins the Thames. Encouraging nesting Black Redstarts could be interpreted as a strategy of resistance to excessive regeneration near Deptford Creek, as new blocks start to tower over the last open skyline view from APT Yard to the west.






Left: First floating of the raft with visiting Egyptian geese family. Right: Art in Perpetuity Trust studios (APT) from Deptford Creek.





Left: Angelica Archangelica growing in the Creek wall below my studio. Right: Raft at low tide with visitor footprints.





Left and right: Hour long recording of the Black Redstart being played through Bluetooth speaker.





Above and below: Welcoming visitors to APT ART YARD on 17th - 18th July. This was a Deptford X Fringe event and part of the Deptford X Festival. A film of the Egyptian Geese family visiting the raft played on a screen in APT's Tea Hut, and documentation about the flora and birds recorded in Deptford Creek: Surviving Regeneration (Steele, 1999) were placed on the walls.









Below: A week later the long raft ropes caught under the ladder and forced the raft down on the rising tide. Most of the plants survived but some Anglicas floated down the creek towards the Thames in their biodegradeable pots to take root elsewhere. The Egyptian geese family were not deterred.





Below: Re-planting the raft, which is staying for a few months and will adapt to and record changing wildfowl interactions and events.





Below: Paul and I remade the raft with triangular ends to withstand larger amounts of flotsam collecting around it particularly after flood tides. A Red-Eared Slider Turtle visited in September visible within the plants upper right (left image) and sunbathing the next day (right image).