This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland
As artists, we (Kerry Morrison and Kate Foster) have discovered a common purpose of embedding ecological artistic practice and research within peat landscape restoration projects. This post invites readers to â€˜watch this spaceâ€™ for how we are, and will be, involved in restoration work on blanket peatland and raised bogs that will be carried out by three Landscape Partnerships that have been recently funded by the Heritage Lottery Landscape Partnership Fund.
The significance of peatlands in terms of wildlife, climate action and hydrology is increasingly recognised by government policy which is leading to artistsâ€™ opportunities, such as with the Peatland Partnership in theÂ Flow Country. For anyone interested in the cultural values of peatland, there is much artwork to draw inspiration from, such asÂ Sexy PeatÂ ; ongoing work by postgraduate students ofÂ Art Space and NatureÂ at Edinburgh College of Art; the respective work of Laura Harrington or Lionel Playford, both based at the University of Northumbria; andÂ Wind ResistanceÂ by singer-songwriter Karine Polwart.
Within this wider context, our respective artistic aims include profiling existing community culture, skills and knowledge â€“ the living heritage. We will be developing artwork during the stage of ecological restoration, contributing further ways to how peatlands can be culturally valued. We see this as an opportunity to reflect on art practice with others (artists and non-artists) who have similar interests, over a three-year period.
The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership programme
As director and lead environment artist atÂ In-Situ, Kerry had been working with the Forest of Bowland during the development stages of their Landscape Partnership Heritage Lottery bid forÂ Pendle Hill. This included developing and managing a pilot arts programme which informed the final, and successful, bid. Working closely with Cathy Hopley (Development Officer at Forest of Bowland AONB) to embed art into the landscape restoration strand of the Pendle Hill four-year programme, In-Situ have become one of the partners and will lead an art strand calledÂ The GatheringsÂ which includes a two-year artist residency during which Kerry will work alongside the team restoring the upland peatlands of Pendle Hill Summit.
The GatheringsÂ programme integrates arts practice and research into a number of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership themes, including: Pendle Hill Summit, Archaeology, High Nature Value, Traditional Boundaries, Woodlands, and Whatâ€™s a Hill Worth?
The GatheringsÂ strand has been designed/curated as a coherent programme consisting of temporary interventions, events, residencies, films and public gatherings. The art projects, beginning in 2018, will evolve in partnership and collaboration, developing and responding to the project strands as they progress over the 4-year delivery period. The role of the artist will be multitudinous: to shed light on the landscape restoration programme, to outreach and engage communities including audiences that have been identified as the most infrequent visitors to the Pendle landscape, and to contribute to new knowledge. The creative processes, outputs and new knowledge gained will be shared in year 4 (2022) at a 3-day conference.
The image below is of a group of young people from Brierfield Action in the Community, celebrating, having achieved the steep climb to Pendle Hill Summit. Their day out was part of a series of workshops to test the Pendle Hill Engagement Kit, developed by In-Situ in partnership with The Forest of Bowland and artist Amy Pennington.
The Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership programme
â€œThe Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership aims to connect people living and working in the area with its heritage and landscape in a drive to secure a prosperous future for the communities around the Water of Ken and River Dee, right from their source to the sea.â€
Further details of the scope of the proposed programme can be seenÂ here. Peatland Connections is one component, led by Dr. Emily Taylor of the Crichton Carbon Centre and to be jointly funded by the Scottish Government programme,Â Peatland Action. Peatland Connections aims to:
â€¦ highlight the significance of Galloway peatlands and, using a demonstrator site beside the Southern Upland Way, trial a new framework to be used to revert areas of forestry back to peatlands, highlighting the resulting water quality, biodiversity and carbon balance benefits. These capital works will be supported by a suite of public engagement/artistic activities highlighting the importance and relevance of peatlands. Source:Â http://www.gallowayglens.org/projects
Kateâ€™s art practice is concerned with different kinds of land use, focussing on wetlands. VariousÂ projectsÂ prepared the way for making links to Peatland Connections. For example, in 2016 she co-ordinated an event themedÂ Wetlands, Flow, and Questions of Scale,Â at the Stove in Dumfries.Â The range of inspiring and thought provoking presentations revealed the depth of existing interest and also the possibilities for further connections.
The image above shows a group with a demonstration peatcore at a workshop on Kirkconnel Flow, led by Dr. Lauren Parry of the University of Glasgow.
Kate proposedÂ Peat CultureÂ as an element of the Peatland Connections in consultation with Emily Taylor. As lead artist, Kate intends to profile the biocultural heritage of Galloway Glens Peatlands by creating an anthology; by developing original artwork as artist-in-residence to the restoration; and by jointly creating material for an exhibition.
Recognising synergies in their practice and collaborative approach with landscape Partnerships, Kerry and Kate began to discuss the potential of connecting Galloway Glens and the Pendle Hill Partnerships to widen the scope, reach and impact of ecological art and peat restoration. Both Landscape Partnerships embraced the idea of connecting and partnering, and to also work with the Carbon Landscape Project (another Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership with a peatland focus), which is in the early stages of delivery.
The Carbon Landscape Project
The Carbon Landscape Project is a Landscape Partnership based around Salford and Warrington, and draws on the areaâ€™s importance in the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. A short informative videoÂ Taking a Round View of the Carbon LandscapeÂ can be seenÂ here.
TheÂ Carbon Landscape ProjectÂ is changing the way in which we approach landscapes and communities in Wigan, Salford and Warrington. Twenty-two interlinked projects will provide a forward-thinking and effective programme that will have lasting benefits for local communities and wildlife.
The scheme is in its first year of their 5-year delivery phase, with work getting underway.
People involved in developing peatland projects of the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership, the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, and the Carbon Landscape Project travelled to aÂ Great Peat MeetÂ in New Galloway last November, in order to exchange information about their programmes. The proposed peatland restoration projects will offer varied ways of engaging communities. Once the projects are all underway, further exchange visits are planned.
The image above was taken during a site visit to Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre Galloway, allowing informal discussion during a walk over deep peatland. Glens Development Officer, McNabb Laurie, said:
â€œWe were proud to welcome these other Landscape Partnerships to Galloway and to hear how the condition and use of peatland sites varies across the UK. It is great that a number ofÂ schemes are coming together to highlight the importance of peat on factors such as water quality, biodiversity, flood management and also the global significance as a carbon store. We can contribute to a national approach to these issues.â€ Source:Â http://www.gallowayglens.org/2017/11/
As artists, we attended and have both been proactive in making proposals and connections between the Landscape Partnerships. The aim is to profile the many and varied ways that peatlands are already valued culturally, as well as contribute new creative work. Plans include a seminar series, to create a network with people involved in similar projects elsewhere and to encourage reflection on interpretation and creative practice.
This article has been prepared by artists Kate Foster and Kerry Morrison in consultation with colleagues in their respective Landscape Partnerships projects.
Contacts for further information:
Kerry MorrisonÂ â€“Â email@example.com
Kate FosterÂ â€“Â firstname.lastname@example.org
Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership:
Cathy Hopley:Â email@example.com
Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership:
McNabb Laurie:Â firstname.lastname@example.org
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