Mosses and Marshes

Mosses and Marshes

The Mosses and Marshes project is an exciting collaboration between artists, land managers and environmental specialists in the UK and Australia using art to transform how we think about a place and changing environment at two of the world’s internationally recognised wetlands – the raised peat bogs of Fenn’s Bettisfield and Whixall Mosses NNR on the border between England and Wales and the iconic Macquarie Marshes in New South Wales.

I was introduced to Kim V. Goldsmith (Dubbo, NSW, Australia) through international remote collaboration organisation, Arts Territory Exchange and we have used scientific research, site visits and field recordings to develop ideas, exploring some of the more hidden values of the wetlands; those values not often considered in the fight to preserve them.

Kim V. Goldsmith and I are the lead artists and project coordinators of Mosses & Marshes , working in consultation with the relevant authorities and community, including public and private land managers.

“One of the things we’ve both been very interested in are the stories behind the wetlands. We’re keen to see how we can weave these into the works, drawing out the commonalities that often have to do with shared hopes for the future of these environments.”

Kim V. Goldsmith

At Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses, we are working with with five other artists: Elizabeth Turner and Keith Ashford, Sue Challis, Kate Johnston and Lydia Halcrow, artist/curator Gudrun Filipska of Arts Territory Exchange, Mediaactive, Wem Youth Club, and we are working in partnership with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England who have been willing to permit access to the site for walks, surveys and recordings.

We hope that this will develop into a longer term project, establishing a platform for future artist residencies.  In this first phase, there will be:

  • New artworks including digital installation, paintings and prints for public exhibitions
  • Workshops with community groups and schools
  • Self-guided art trail/sound walks with outdoor sculpture/waymarkers
  • A project book and artist talks

On the surface, these two wetland areas are vastly dissimilar – one is a raised peat bog inundated with water, the other severely impacted by ongoing drought. In addition, the landscape, the issues and management of the Mosses and Marshes all differ in response to their respective climatic and environmental conditions. However, both are natural sites of international significance, and both have an impact on or are impacted by land uses.  

The interpretation of water data for both sites, along with access to them from field trips, provides an opportunity to present these spaces creatively through a new lens, in a way not routinely experienced. This in turns gives managing bodies, and those with an interest in the Mosses and Marshes, a chance to put the spotlight on why they are so important and how they might be managed in future. As Ramsar-listed international wetlands of importance, these sites “are recognized as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.” Recent events, such as the bush fires across Australia, demonstrate how fragile and vulnerable these landscapes are to climate change.

My work to date comprises paintings, prints and photography presenting views of the interdependent relationships between humans, the land and its ecosystems. One of the main focal points was the restoration of a former car scrapyard back to wetland habitat. Here I gathered a number of found objects which have inspired several artworks.

Artefacts
Whixall Forms, oil on canvas, 61cm x 61cm
Artefacts, 12cm x 12cm collagraph prints
Monoprints, acrylic on paper

The process of developing this project would be via a series of on-site residencies, with the lead artists, consisting of field trips and other events to gather information and material.  In later project phases, it is intended that residencies may be extended to invited artists.