The Mosses and Marshes project brings together artists, land managers and environmental specialists in the UK and Australia questioning how we think about and value natural environments through works centred on 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, Australia.
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With a common interest in environmental issues, we explored how we might create an international project presenting these wetland landscapes alongside each other, reimagining their future and the place they have in our communities.
On the surface, these 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.
Public funding from the National Lottery awarded by Arts Council England combined with funding secured in Australia enables us to work 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 Projects CIC and local partners Wem Youth Club and Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
My work to date comprises video and sound recordings, 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.