Skip to main content
Hear Water – Bath Spa University

Hear Water: building environmental empathy through deep listening

Project background

Blue spaces (e.g. ponds, rivers, streams, lakes) are subject to a cocktail of environmental stressors including pollution and urbanisation, which are compounded by climate change. These global concerns affect all members of society, but engagement, knowledge and acceptance of them is disproportionately distributed.

Hear Water will engage with under-represented groups that are critical to, and often most vulnerable to, the effects of climate change. The project will take an arts and technology-based approach to engagement with communities represented by IMAYLA, in Bristol, UK.

The project will consist of skills-based workshops and talks about climate change, freshwater ecology and underwater sound. Participants at the workshops will build hydrophones, and then record underwater soundscapes to provide inspiration for co-created artistic outputs for public exhibition.

We aim to increase knowledge and understanding of climate change, the value of blue spaces, and actions that an individual can take. Participatory research will assess the extent to which aural perception of environmental issues could be a new approach to achieving positive social change and increased environmental empathy.

The project was supported by funding from the Natural Environment Research Council under the scheme Creative Climate Connections: COP26 environmental science public engagement. 

The project culminated in a celebration event in October 2022 with the screening of a soundscape film made from the participants’ contributions.

In 2023, Hear Water received further funding from an AHRC Impact Accelerator Award to expand the team and develop a cross-disciplinary community and education resource with schools in the Avon Schools Eco Network.


Professor Amanda Bayley (Professor of Music, Lead Researcher)

Amanda leads an interdisciplinary research group on Intercultural Communication through Practice. Her publications include The Cambridge Companion to Bartók (2001) and Recorded Music: Performance, Culture, and Technology (2010), which received the Ruth A. Solie Award from the American Musicological Society in 2011. Her research focuses on composer-performer collaborations, rehearsal analysis and creative processes across repertoires, genres and cultures.

She is humanities editor for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies and Co-Investigator on two projects funded by the European Research Council: ‘Beyond East and West: developing and documenting an evolving transcultural musical practice’ (2015-2020), and ‘Interactive Research in Music as Sound’ (2017-2022). She is a series editor for a forthcoming book series with Routledge, on Transcultural Musical Practices.

Dr Ian Thornhill (Reader in Ecology and Conservation, Co-Investigator)

Ian is a freshwater ecologist with a background in pond and stream ecosystems in both temperate and tropical environments. He has also worked extensively in the field of citizen science. He currently leads a project called Resilient People, Resilient Ecosystems in Smart Cities, a social and ecological study of urban bluespaces (ponds, rivers, lakes and streams) in both Bristol and Mexico City. He has previously worked as an environmental consultant, for local government and in the charitable sector, and as such works towards applied solutions to environmental issues.

  • Staff profile
Kathy Hinde (Audiovisual artist, Research Fellow)

Kathy is an audiovisual artist whose practice embraces open methods and evolving processes. Through installations, performances and site specific experiences, she aims to nurture a deeper and more embodied connection to other species and the Earth’s systems. Kathy frequently works in collaboration with other practitioners and scientists and often actively involves the audience in the creative process.

Kathy has been showing work globally for over 20 years. She joined the Cryptic Artist programme in 2015, is a member of Bristol Experimental Expanded Film (BEEF) and a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol. She received an Ivor Novello Award for Sound Art in 2020, an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2015, an ORAM award and a British Composer Award in 2017, a Scottish Award for New Music and was selected for European SHAPE Platform for innovative music and audiovisual art in 2018.

Photo credit: Kathy Hinde

Edit section | Website feedback to