Wild Côa Symphony  

An artist residency project


the Endangered Landscapes Programme


Rewilding Portugal

Artist Residency (2021-22). Now extended to Summer 2023.

Linked to the 'Here Commons Everybody' programme, supported by the Countryside & Community Research Institute (CCRI) and Arts Council England

Imaginative weavings of land, ecology and communities

Working closely with local communities in the Côa Valley, the ecological artist, Antony Lyons, and public archaeologist, Bárbara Carvalho, are exploring this impressive riverine landscape.

Collaborative investigations by day and night reveal the interwoven, entangled geographies of water, people, forests, animals, soil and stone. 

Embracing movement and fluidity, we reflect on the spirit-of-place and layers of time – imagining futures where both biodiversity and communities can flourish.

Our processes and resulting artworks include acoustic field-recordings, diverse voices/memories, music-based data sonifications, photography and moving-image.

The project will culminate in a co-created ‘Wild Côa Symphony’. Involving the entire journey of the Côa River, the result will be an enduring legacy in the form of an

impressionistic video-sonic artwork and be a poetic window into a place of healing and repair for people and ecologies.

The resulting immersive experience will invite audiences to contemplate possible futures and to discover the multiple entangled flows of the Côa Valley bioregion.

The project has links to a related initiative by Lyons, titled 'Here Commons Everybody', which is supported by the CCRI and Arts Council England.

Also involved is composer Jesse D Vernon (Morning Star). All three artists are collaborators in the NOVA Creative Lab.

This is one of eight connected artist residencies supported by the Endangered Landscapes Programme. Details of all eight projects can be seen on the ELP site.

An update report from September 2022 is HERE.

Wild Côa Symphony

An artist residency project involving the entire journey of the Côa River will lead to the production of an impressionistic video-sonic poem, weaving imagery, soundscapes, voices and music-based sonification of water data. It will be presented as a screened film piece, but also as an extended immersive experience. Containing timeless as well as ephemeral strands, our work will be a subjective creative ‘map’ of a distinctive place, forever morphing and adapting; a valley in transition.

The local host organisation is Rewilding Portugal, who are catalysts for ecological regeneration at a series of sites in the Greater Côa Valley. Questions around ‘wildness’, ‘healing’, ‘freedom’, ‘sustenance’, ‘sanctuary’ and ‘co-existence’ are influences in our process. Through four seasons, the creative collaboration seeks to discover diverse flows, rhythms, atmospheres and entanglements. We are tuning-into the complexity of the geographical space traversed, but also the temporal range from the deep past, through the present and into the future.

It is a geopoetic odyssey though the shadows, undercurrents, reflections and echoes of the river terrain. The relationships between flow/water and stone/mineral also contain and support the ecosystem of people and nature. Our natural intuitive approach is concerned with the regional, or macro, scale, but also the microscopic realm.

Voices and memories from this landscape - and 'dreamscape' - present more layers to be woven-in and, through experimental song, the stories of water flows will be communicated - from the rains on Serra da Estrela to the confluence with the Douro River.

Ao longo de um ano de residência artística e de uma viagem que percorre todo o vale do rio Côa, será criado um poema vídeo-sónico impressionista. A obra entrelaçará imagens, paisagens sonoras, vozes e uma sonorização de dados de água. Será exibida como peça fílmica e também uma instalação imersiva. Estruturado por fios atemporais e efêmeros, o nosso trabalho será um ‘mapa’ criativo e subjetivo de um lugar singular, em constante adaptação e transformação; um vale em transição.

A organização anfitriã desta residência é Rewilding Portugal – um catalisador para de regeneração ecológica de um conjunto de áreas no Grande Vale do Côa. Reflexões sobre o 'selvagem', a 'recuperação', a 'liberdade', o 'sustento', 'santuário' e 'coexistência' influenciam o processo criativo. Ao longo de quatro estações, a colaboração artística procura ir ao encontro de diversos fluxos, ritmos, atmosferas e enredamentos. Estamos afinados a complexidade do espaço geográfico percorrido e o alcance temporal do seu passado profundo, através do presente para o futuro.

É uma odisseia geopoética conduzida pelas sombras, subcorrentes, reflexos e ecos de um terreno fluvial. De relações existentes entre fluxo/água e pedra/mineral que também contêm e suportam o ecossistema de natureza e pessoas. Uma abordagem naturalmente intuitiva vai desde entre grandes perspectivas macroscópicas aos detalhes microscópicos que irão captar impressões não "documentadas" de cada local. Vozes e memórias de uma paisagem - e ‘dreamscape’- entrelinham-se é, através do canto experimental, as histórias dos fluxos de água serão transmitidas - desde as chuvas na Serra da Estrela ao confluir do rio Douro.

Creative Team

Antony Lyons is an ecological artist, working in transitional landscapes. Focusing on deep explorations of natural and cultural fluxes of knowledge, stories and inspirations,

he seeks to activate fresh insights and connections. Lyons uses field-recordings, dialogues and archival sources to create film-poems and installations.

He has frequently worked with rivers and coasts, as well as ecological recovery zones. Lyons is the founder of the NOVA Creative Lab.


Bárbara Carvalho is an accredited archaeologist. She develops international research exchange programs in the archaeological and rewilding sites of the Côa Valley.

These include the facilitation of community engagement programmes and participatory fieldwork.

Carvalho works within ACÔA's Memory Archive - an intergenerational project recording the intangible cultural heritage of the communities of the Côa Valley

and has previously collaborated with Lyons on creative research and film-making as part of the international Heritage Futures programme.

Jesse D Vernon is a composer and musician and founder of The Fantasy Orchestra. Also a member of the band This Is The Kit.

He started an improvisation group in 2010 called the Full Moon Orchestra. The idea was to meet every full moon and that the pieces would be improvised yet structured.

Each session was completely open to all ages and abilities and the audience was encouraged to participate and indeed conduct the orchestra.




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