I looked out and saw plumes of salty air

Joanne Matthews

2022-2023 Salt Water

Starting from Joppa Salt Pans, a former site of fossil-fuel-powered salt production, Joanne Matthews is exploring connections between capitalism, rising sea levels and over-salination.

As glaciers melt and heat evaporates water, the seas have changed. Matthews is testing speculative fictional environments in order to transform neoliberal apocalyptic narratives of doom and find hope in the dark.

Weaving narratives from this parallel reality, Matthews is creating a salt world. Their work asks: how might bodies evolve to live with so much salt? And what could crystallised artefacts from this salty future look like? Emerging from this salt world are objects, film, poetry and voice – each a tool for exploration, love, emergence and identity.

Matthews is also working with Glasgow-based artist Hanna Tuulikki, who is providing dramaturgical support.

Joanne Matthews is an artist based in Edinburgh, working collaboratively across performance, audio, video, installation, photography, and drawing. Their projects are often context-dependent, responding to locations and social-political contexts. Their work is shaped through ongoing research into deep ecology.

Commissions include For Portobello, 2050, Art Walk Porty (Edinburgh, 2021), When are you going to cut the grass? for IUCN World Conservation Conference (Marseilles, 2021) and Wild Philosophy part of DIY (2018) by Live Art Development Agency (London) and Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff). They have been an artist in residence at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Burnieshed (Perthshire) and Scottish Sculpture Workshop (Aberdeen) as part of their open access programme. They show their work across the UK with their sound art played across artist-led radio stations.

Joanne Matthews (centre) with other SALT residency artists, Mahala Le May (left), Natasha Thembiso Ruwona (right)
Image: Ellie J McMaster

Commissioned Works:

Assorted Kipple Art Walk Hub 2022 and site of Old Joppa Saltpans (alongside performance/reading) – photographed below

at first, and then 15:00 video and sound installation, mote102 102 Ferry Road Edinburgh March 2023

Set in a speculative salty world, at first, and then is a collage of photographs, moving image and sound. Part of Matthews’ 2022 residency with Art Walk Projects, the film takes place in an over-salinated Portobello. Through a queer lens and with nods to 1960s French new wave cinema, the work layers a 35-voice choir with crawling digital sounds, harking to past science fictions projecting into the future. Production and editing assistance from Kathryn Cutler-Mackenzie.

Writing commissioned in partnership with MAP Magazine, published in SALT journal published by Art Walk Press 2023:

We Will All Be Marine Mammals Soon on Joanne Matthews by Rowan Lear – available to read on MAP

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