A good mudlarker is looking for centuries of river debris. Think the Seine, an aquatic icon and garbage pit for well over a thousand years. Or the river Thames, chock-full of hundreds of years end-of-day glass from 18th- and 19th-century factories. The French Broad River? Not so much. If you should go mudlarking on the banks of the Broad, you’ll probably end up with some tires, glass or maybe a television. Or perhaps an unopened beer and a beach ball tossed from a recent birthday flotilla.
Simply put, a mudlarker is a person who scavenges river banks for objects of social and monetary value — antiquated dumpster divers. Valuable objects may have been lodged into the mud after a storm or flood. Or in this case, purposefully left there for the geographically adept and geocache-savvy to find. But we’re not sure about that last part — the “where.” Not yet at least.
Charleston-born and Baltimore-based artist A.B. Moore has pieced together a state-wide scavenger hunt called “Mudlark Highway.” Moore created a series of hand-made, red earthenware works of art for the occasion. They’ll be hidden in such urban and geographic depths that only a good local should be know. And to make the search harder, of course.
The works, “artifacts” as she’s calling them, are abstract physical recollections of her past. Rather, her conceptions of childhood trips and a “South” as seen through a lens skewed by time and cultural shifting. Each of the works is being placed in one of several cities throughout North and South Carolina that the artists lived in or visited throughout her life.
“There is no predesigned assignment of artifact to site, so as objects are placed, information will be leaked about how and where to find them. Each site will be photographed, recorded by GPS, and described in writing by the artist,” writes Moore in a press release. These photographs and writings that will be posted on her website. Hand-painted wooden signs will also appear as the search narrows in. Whoever gets their first gets to keep the artwork. All she asks is that you write back, describing you personal take on the search and the regional relevance to your life.
The search started on March 16. Hatteras, Ocracoke, Wilmington and Charleston were among others in the coastal region. She’s since moved inland, traveling through South Carolina towards Charlotte. It hits Asheville this weekend tomorrow, Saturday the 23, just a day before Moore heads back to Baltimore. So be on the lookout.
For more information and for the first clues to this weekend’s search check out http://carolinamudlark.tumblr.com.