Leah Fusco

Research Group: Centre for Research through Design
Award studied: PhD

Project title

Reclaiming Lost Histories in Transient Landscapes


This research explores the visual remnants of a DMV (deserted medieval village) located on a saltmarsh in East Sussex and addresses problems in documenting physically shifting landscapes. Marshlands are areas of transience; geographic and man-made details are revealed and concealed repeatedly through dynamic water levels. I will be looking at how water based processes make history (in)visible and how illustration practice can be employed to explore and capture alternative timeframes and temporality.

"There are definite advantages to staying in the same spot for long periods of time. Partly you accrue information in a very slow natural way and partly you can see how long the place breathes and changes." – Iain Sinclair Psychogeography

Repetition, revisiting and experiencing place over time will shape my methodology and (re)drawing the site of Northeye will help me to measure long and short term changes in the landscape. A collection of visual diaries have emerged as a result of multiple fieldwork trips, which will be an ongoing research method looking at time and materiality in drawing based documentation.

Alongside this work, I have been researching the site at Bexhill Museum, which specialises in natural history, archaeology and ethnography. Ranging from excavation finds, photographs, oral histories and the notes and maps of local amateur archaeological and history groups, the museum is the only holder of documentation on the deserted village of Northeye. Much of the material is currently unseen by the general public and hasn't been digitised yet. Focusing on their collection of around 25 maps, a recent research output includes the development of a short film, using archival material from the museum and location drawings from my visual diaries.

The moving image piece tracks the shifting landscape of Northeye over ten centuries from the effects of tsunamis and salt mines to the Black Death and smuggling. Drawing together key pieces of primary and secondary research, the work examines the role of illustration as a narrative device for inhabiting territory between past and present readings of the site.



Canterbury Christchurch University, 2016
Northeye: the physical reshaping of a medieval island at the Annual Conference on Communities

Edinburgh University, 2015
Reclaiming Lost Histories in Transient Landscapes at the 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies

Funding received

PhD full studentship, LDoC AHRC

Research award, University for the Creative Arts

Stills from 'Mapping Northeye'