In light of the Covid-19 pandemic’s visible impact on lowering world pollution emissions Carbon Synthesis is a trans-disciplinary project which proposes to reveal rhythms and markers of climate change by linking art and science; revealing the effects by visualising the (in)visible.

2021 marks the beginning of a year long artist residency with Lancashire Wildlife Trust, City of Trees and Carbon Landscape which will link Little Woolden Moss in Greater Manchester to a wider international collaboration with artist’s Dr Sarah Robinson and Dr Donna Franklin (Perth, Australia) and research teams at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station, Finland.

Carbon Synthesis is an international investigation into the possibilities creative practice offers translating current understanding and developing technological capabilities transforming perceptions of our global wetlands.

I am hugely grateful for the opportunity this residency period offers and look forward to sharing our discoveries along the way.

 

 

 

 


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The landscape of a peat bog is muted especially in winter, but on closer inspection there is a fantastic array of colours in this landscape.

There has been a marked drop in temperature this month. A change in cloud cover also often brings a change in the sonic landscape. Some days the hum of the boundary motorway is very invasive but on other days you barely notice it and just focus on the birdsong.

Early morning walks early in November bring with them heavy dew. Drops sit on the ends of the grass like jewels glistening in the light, soaking your legs as you walk.

Dew days reveal unseen rhythms of the grass and the spider’s lines linking the trees and heathers.

This month saw the Beaver Moon – the beginning of hibernation months.

A late sprinkling of snow changed the moss from autumnal colours to a landscape in monochrome.

Networks of Fox and Hare are mapped across the bunds.

Observations and recording have become more than a weekly exercise, they have begun to take on a life of their own, reflecting my presence as much as the weather and landscape. My studies reinforce my connection to this place. Within the first few months of the residency multiple ideas took shape, threads weaving in and out of each other, of me, and the landscape itself.


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Much of this year has been about noticing small details, strange patterns, colours or just one particular view changing with the seasons.

October was very much a threshold of the changing seasons. Peat levels began to rise again as leaves and vegetation begins to fall and die back.

Umbers and Ochre’s are everywhere. It is very pleasant not to need insect repellent. Buzzards regularly dance overhead. The first half of the month was generally very still, large clouds and low sun bathing the moss in a golden light.

The moss seems to be slipping into a more relaxed state as we edge towards Autumn.

Fungi are appearing everywhere; colonies of beautiful shapes and colours embrace the dampness.

Walking in the rain revealed a low drumming as the rain hits the dry leaves. When wet the moss deepens its colour palette to rustic reds and browns.

Towards the end of the month the time spent walking feels particularly precious again. As life returns to pre-Covid times, work and family commitments squeeze my time.

As my residency time nears its end, I consider the responses this landscape inspires.

I look closely, I look again and again.

I walk, I pause. I look. I hear. I touch. I smell. Relationships build, I draw and I collect. My visits are a repetitive process which build connection.

 


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Unseasonal weather this month, extremely warm and dry.

Often the walks on the moss were under cloudless skies. The air heavy and still and the water levels very low.

Heather was in full bloom and the trees are beginning to turn colour. It is a quiet time but with an impending change of season.

The still warm conditions have created perfect conditions for the dragonflies, which have been fabulous this month. Walking later in the day is the best time with them traversing the pools and edges of the moss.

“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonable clear on the location of Australia, and the Outer Hebrides. Such maps abound. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life….”

Alexander McCall Smith.

 

This place is magical; it is created in every encounter that takes place in it. Created through the living forces, which pass through it and reside within it. Each crossing paths, weaving in and out of each other. Places are made and remade in our mind and memory, in our imaginations and re-imagining of what they can be.

 


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This month was challenging for visiting the moss. Between having to self-isolate and trying to grab a few days holiday I feel I have been absent for long stretches.

The absences have meant that seasonal changes have been dramatic, the settled summer quietness of July was replaced by a dynamic heavy sky which sat unmoving over the long moisture laden grasses.

 

 

“A walk marks time with an accumulation of footsteps. It defines the form of the land. Walking the roads and paths is to trace a portrait of the country…”

– Richard Long, Selected Statements and Interviews, Haunch of Venison Press, 2007

 

Every time I walk on to the moss it seems like there is an unlocking of something unexpected. There is a reconstruction of hidden stories and lines. I decode, map and collect sensory experiences, connecting and reassembling threads of non-human lives, which weave across my walking path.

The air busy with dragonflies and insects of all sizes made it difficult to walk without colliding.

Subtle colour changes indicate that a transformation is coming, the impermanence of the land connecting place, past and future – no two journeys or walks are ever the same.


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For the last six years or so I have been asking questions about the mosslands of Greater Manchester. Questions revolving around a sense of connection to older ways of knowing and being in the land, knowledge informed through touch.

Knowing through a relationship to place and the stuff of place.

How do these lands shape us? and how can we consider thinking in slower, wider timescales and in terms of local when we live in an age of mass production and ecological degradation?

 

Attention given to the land underfoot informs my growing relationship with Little Woolden Moss.

 

If you sit on the land long enough

It will speak to you

If you listen you will hear it murmur

If you sit still,

If you stop moving

If you open your ear

You will begin to hear a foreign language – an ancient tongue

And if you

If you can be silent

You can hear it move

And if that silence is maintained

You will hear a faint pulse

And within that pulse begin to feel the fibre of that old song

And it will touch every part of your being

And start to tell you the story of the old spirit that rests in this country.

 

Song, the story of a Girl, a Bird and a Teapot.

Devi A. (formerly Waiata) Telfer, an Australian poet and playwright.

 

July saw long periods without rain, followed by days of heavy rain.

Degrees of exposure are revealed starkly as exposed moss slowly turns white.

Humidity was captured and held within the architecture of the moss. Tall grass and ferns hold moisture and fragrance. Textures are revealed by droplets of water as they reshape the leaves/stems/petals on their journey towards the ground.


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