WaterLANDS Artists catch up to collaborate

Picture caption: Artists visit a meadow

Our UK Artists in residence for WaterLANDSLaura Harrington and Feral Practice, who are working with us at the Great North Bog Action Site, enjoyed three fascinating days in Greifswald and Berlin, in Germany, on a knowledge exchange trip.

They were selected for a part-time placement as part of the EU project, which aims to restore wetlands throughout Europe, to help engage with communities. Artists are working with each of the  six action sites in the UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Estonia and Italy and this was the first time that most had met in person.

It was a chance for them to catch up on progress and explore new ways to collaborate. The artists presented to one another their impressions of their site and ideas for the residency.

Laura and Feral Practice (Fiona MacDonald) shared their experiences of working in the blanket bogs of northern England and with the UK team based at the University of Leeds. They introduced their project Tenderbog – exploring how the beings, processes and materials of blanket peatlands in Northern England interact in their restoration.

It was such a pleasure to be able to meet new artists and get to know them, their practices and the environmental contexts in which they work through these kinds of experiences and exchanges,” said Laura Harrington.

The scientists in Germany are developing new biomaterials from cattail and other marshy plants, including wall insulation and furniture. They are also growing supermoss sphagnum. The new products may help farmers who are currently dependent on the drained peatlands for conventional farming products as they can still make a living if they rewet their land. A stunning 95 percent of German peatland is drained and looks like meadows or arable.

Caitriona Devery, coordinator, said: “The overall ambition is to offer a creative way to translate the restoration and research activities to the wider community and to generate interest in the findings and recommendations of the WaterLANDS project.”

The artists visited the Michael Succow Foundation’s first world’s amazing peatland library as part of the exchange trip and were given a tour by peatland expert Hans Joosten.

They also visited a coastal salt marsh restoration project at Karrendaw measows and learnt about the idea of Paludiculture – the productive use of wet and re-wetted peatlands in a way that peat is long term preserved.

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