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.






May Fieldnotes.


“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening.
If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning.”

​Hermann Hesse, Wandering, 1920


May is proving unseasonably cool, colours have often been dominated by pink and lilac shades. The cotton grass is in full bloom, offset by the dark brown peat and deep green of the trees.

On calm days the clouds seem to fill the sky and reflect in the pools creating the illusion of space below ground.

I have loved listening to and watching the lapwings dance over the water and moss. Some days the wind moves the grass as if connected to their swooping and songs.

On several visits over the last few weeks I have been struck by the amazing smells, which fill the air. On early morning visits after rain this is particularly noticeable when the smell of peat and earth envelopes you.  It is comforting, welcoming you to walk more slowly and spend longer looking.

“So it is with time, that lightens what is dark, that darkens what is light.”

​Samuel Beckett, Watt, 1953

Still, calm morning, cool temperatures and early morning sun illuminate the dozens of tiny spiders webs, which sit alongside the path. Securely nestled in the heather they look like miniature cloud point drawings – following rhythms of the landscape and responding to invisible non-human patterns.

It constantly amazes me the gifts revealed on my visits to this place. New layers of place – only revealed when specific conditions of light, rain, wind, temperature or warmth allow.




April fieldnotes.

The more I visit this place, the more I realise I need to try and identify the many layers of sound, subtly framing my view and immersing me.

I set myself the task of visiting weekly to look and record changes in the landscape but had not fully appreciated that looking included listening.

On still days the water is a mirror to the whole sky, the occasional pond skater or line of bubbles breaks the surface.

On the waters edge the flying insects have appeared, gathering and whipping in and out of the heather and grass. Large bees fly low and the occasional butterfly moves around the edges of the moss.

April was quite dry and on occasion still very cold by night.

Water levels seem to be dropping.

There have been some spectacular clouds over the moss this past month, heavy clouds sit quietly allowing shafts of light to break through and highlight parts of the moss.

The visiting lapwings dance and sing.

On cloudy days the hum of the motorway is dulled allowing the birdsong to fully surround the moss.

Cotton grass flowers ripple and bob with the rhythm of the wind.

Everything feels soft at the moment.

I have been spending some visits just listening below the bog, using my hydrophones I have been trying to capture signs of life within the moss.

As the days get longer and the temperatures increase so the rhythms below the waterline has begun to reveal itself. A real sense of the space which sits between worlds.

Tadpoles emerge from their eggs, munching hungrily, water boatmen sing, and rain drums on the bull rushes. It is easy to get lost in the clicks and pops of the below water sounds, I am still to identify many of the sounds captured and may be this is ok.   Invisible worlds, present all around us – we are part of a wider world but have maybe lost the connection.

Matter of Water is a weekly record of the colour the water appears to the human eye and also the colour of water taken from a sample at that moment.

These small paintings are specific to that moment – recording light quality as much as water colour. The durational nature of the paintings means that they become a record of time, weather and water levels.

How to hold a cloud in your hand / carbon clouds.

Recent research and climate models have shown an uncertain behaviour of clouds. In some climate models, clouds strongly amplify warming. In others they have a neutral effect or dampen warming slightly. To avoid exceeding a certain level of global warming, the world needs to limit how much carbon is emitted.

Clouds can act like a parasol, cooling the earth by reflecting sunlight back into space. But they can also at like a blanket, warming the earth by preventing heat from escaping into space.

Global warming is expected to cause changes in the amount of cloud cover, the height and thickness of the clouds, shifting the balance between the effectiveness of the cloud feedback.

Stratocumulus clouds are widespread low-lying clouds, they form large cloud decks.

When CO2 levels rise stratocumulus clouds become unstable and break up. When these clouds break up they no longer shade the surface of the earth, triggering global warming of 8c.

One of the most concerning aspects of climate change are the potential tipping points – critical thresholds beyond which rapid climate change occur that are difficult to reverse.

In response to this research I have begun a cloud archive, my clouds are drawn at a scale relative to what I see. The measurement is in relation to my own body, my own hand.  This archive is a future imagining of skies without clouds.








End of March visits have seen another super Moon (Worm Moon)

Extremely windy conditions meant that my overnight cyanotypes captured some movement as the wind whipped up the water and created little currents through the grass.

The days following the wind bought some unseasonably warm weather, lapwings are very vocal as the layers of sound immerse me when I walk around the moss.

The water has been so still at times it has acted as a mirror for the ever changing sky.  The occasional pond skater or row of bubbles breaks the surface.

Anna and I have now installed 5 measuring rods in various positions around the moss.  This will allow me to take regular readings of the peat as it swells and shrinks over the coming months.







Microscopic relationships

by Donna Franklin.

Over the last few months Donna has been looking at small scale ecologies which lead to global outcomes. Specifically looking at Lichen and Fungi, and the possibilities of using them as bio-indicators of pollution levels.

Key words:

Alchemy, Fungi, Regeneration/Resurrection, refugee lifeform, extremophiles and Escape pods.

Lichen are 3 species in symbiosis. Fungi-algae-cyanobacteria. This is a deep microscopic relationship. Researchers have successfully separated the three invitro but could not stick them back together again. As fungi do not photosynthesise to produce carbohydrates, they work with these extremophiles in a plastic morphology adapting and changing in response to temperature, moisture and pollution levels. Here the fungi partner prepares to release spores.

Credit Line: Franklin, D. (2020). Lichen Sexual Reproduction. Living specimen.

A series of chambers, hairs, and neuron cells associated with the olfactory bulb inside the brain; The nasal cavity is the first line of defence. Sense of smell is an early warning system, connected to emotion and memory. The mucous production and act of sneezing expels particles, pollen and disease.

Credit Line: Franklin, D. (2020). Nasal Cavity, Sus scrofa domesticus. Fresh dissected tissue.

A 50-year-old lichen growing on our solar panel, 15cm in dia. The eroded centre, regenerating new tissue.

Credit Line: Franklin, D. (2020). Regeneration. Living specimen.




Listening beneath the bog.
I have spent a few visits sitting quietly with the moss. Training myself to listen and allowing myself to imagine the unseen landscape beneath the bog.

When the sky is grey there is a softness.

On still days everything whispers

On windy days everything maps the energy of the wind.

Broken patterns of light and movement.

Spring is bringing new layers to my understanding.

A simple walk and conversation with Anna Keightley led us to a small pool just off the main mossland area.  Anna wondered if its more sheltered location would reveal some signs of activity using the hydrophones.

She was right, the pool was full of Toads gathering to spawn.  Their chatter was fascinating. Listening below the water you could recognise distinct sounds, clicks and squeaks.