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I’m on the year-long ‘ReWilding’ programme with Feral Art School. It’s a research and practice-based programme in collaboration with industry partner G F Smith, a local papermaker. There’s learning, trips, crit and mentoring opportunities (and whatever else ends up happening!). I think it’s intentionally been left very broad so that each participant can choose their direction of travel, but a suggested theme is that of ‘ReWild’.

I’ll be honest in that I’ve been struggling since finishing my MA in September to find focus and make. I’m full of ideas, have a million potential avenues to explore and I’m willing to embrace multiple nodes of inquiry (as is my gestalt-y approach)… but it’s been a bit of a mentally and emotionally tough winter and I’ve ended up trapped in my own head a bit. I just need to start making yet I can’t seem to do that easily at the moment.

It doesn’t help that I have a tendency to intellectually, emotionally and morally chew over fucking everything… which nourishes me but it don’t half get overwhelming. I’m hoping that writing things down – however badly – just helps me lay out (at least some of) my thoughts so I can get back to actually making something.



As a result of now being part of the Feral network, I know I’ll get some readers who are unfamiliar with my practice so the next two paragraphs are for you!

My experimental practice-research takes an autoethnographical approach in exploring how visual and participatory art can positively impact the physical natural environment and ecoliterate social change. Through an interdisciplinary collaborative approach with both human and more-than-human communities, I use drawing, sculpture, photography:film, installation, participatory activity to explore ideas around kinship with the Land. I call for a transformational and restorative (re)cultivation of care and respect with our more-than-human kin (and with each other) because I think compassion and care is what will mobilise communities towards meaningful climate action.

I am inspired by environmental philosophies and ethics, climate science, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, my British and Irish indigenous cosomologies, land-based ontologies and my own direct experience of the Earth. I use a blend of science, art-making, empiricism, mysticism and direct experience to better interact and ‘listen’ to the more-than-human world and promote radical empathy, kindness and kinship towards the Earth. I use natural, biodegradable and/or recycled:reclaimed:borrowed materials to draw experimentally in the expanded field, through page and print but equally through foraging, growing, and walking.

My main research inquiry at the moment is understanding:

a) how art can help us to connect to place,

b) how creativity develops kinship to place (and consequentially drive climate action) and

c) how to make art in equitable collaboration with the more-than-human as to centre its ‘voice’ within knowledge production and sustainable human practice



I think I also (minor) issue with the word ‘Wild’ because of what it means. And I think I need to articulate this.

You can track anti-nature tendencies throughout (Western) history… lots of people think it started with Abrahamic religions (i.e. God-given dominion over nature, and the intangible soul being closer to God than ‘sinful’ material existence’) but I think it was earlier. I think it was whenever we started building city walls. Or any walls that served to separate humans from the natural ecosystem. It went beyond shelter from the elements or being a warm place to sleep (such as a nest or a sett), in which ‘in here’ became civilized whilst ‘out there’ became uncivilized, or wild. Our sanctuary is in here, our resources are out there. Nature can come into our walls… but only through manicured gardens, caged animals and in the timber of our houses. The ‘untamed’ face of nature became something to fear, something to other, something to control and something to exploit. And that included the indigenous communities, ‘witches’, the lower classes, the ‘foreigners’, the mad, the ‘village idiot’, the dissenters or whoever else wasn’t welcome in the safe, inner sanctum. It isn’t a coincidence that the ‘wild’ is considered by many cultures to be feminine either.


Photo of a firepit I helped build. Because fire is ‘wild’, isn’t it?


There’s been a huge systemic disconnection between humanity and the rest of nature over millennia through ‘othering’, compounded over time through the dominance of organised religion, the printing press (losing traditional ecological knowledge through the loss of oral tradition), the Scientific Revolution (systematic deconstruction and categorisation), Industrialization (mass exploitation) and Capitalism (unsustainable consumption and waste production).  So when we use the word ‘Wild’ now, it reinforces that Cartesian, dualistic fallacy that humans are separate (self-important higher beings?) from nature. This is absolute bollocks of course, but it’s so entrenched in our culture that it’s suffocating. It even pisses me off that I use the word ‘nature’ to refer about an ecosystem that doesn’t include humans, because we don’t have the language to articulate these things accurately. Our language is built around the othering of nature. On pondering this I came across a great paper titled ‘The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature’ (William Cronon, 1996, Environmental History, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 7-28) – check it out!

So when we use the word REWild then… does it mean to leave the city walls? But if our culture dictates that we humans are outside the ‘wild’, then our presence in the ‘wild’ means it’s no longer ‘wild’. So the place where humans are can only logically be the place where the wild is NOT. So does ReWild mean to recognise that we aren’t separate? But even then, that renders the word ‘Wild’ meaningless. It’s a bullshit paradoxical word based in shaky, self-important beliefs.

It’s paradoxical and frustrating but luckily I think way too much about this sort of thing so I have a solution on how to actually make this word relevant in contemporary society. I think to ReWild is actually about Reparations; recognizing all that shit Anthropocentric damage we’ve done as a species and taking restorative action that builds increased equity. To ReWild then, is more about ReConnecting, ReListening and ReAcknowledging the Land.

And so this is an interesting thing to explore creatively. I’ve started exploring this somewhat through the exploration of Riverspeaking and Restorative Learning Practices, so I could focus on continuing this train of thought. How would I translate these ideas through artmaking, both in the studio and within communities?


Shadow, Myth and Magic

Despite all I just said, let’s for a moment embrace what storytelling comes to mind when we think of ‘Wild’. The feminine, the dark, the mysterious, the shadow, the unknown, the intuitive, the spirit, the beyond. As someone who has been embracing folk stories as sources of traditional ecological knowledge and the use of ritual and ceremony to find meaning with the more-than-human… all of that is very exciting to me. There’s so much richness here that captures imagination.

Ritual Mat (2023). Exhibited in my seeds of change MA Show, as an ‘activationable artwork’ reflecting the processes, tools and ceremonies that I’ve used to reconnect to nature.


And on a related but left field note… I’m part of Hull Musical Theatre Company, and I’ve got a small named singing part (Lucinda / Step-Sister) in this years production of Into The Woods. It’s a story, by the brilliant Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, that interweaves a number of fairytale characters who – without ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t seen it – go into the woods for various reasons And it goes tits up for almost everybody in one way or another.



(Most of) the Into the Woods squad… coming to a stage near you!


The way I understand it, the woods are a metaphorical liminal space of possibility, dreams and wishes. ‘Anything can happen in the woods’. But read this:

You go into the woods,
  Where nothing's clear,
  Where witches, ghosts
  And wolves appear.
  Into the woods
  And through the fear,
  You have to take the journey.


Though it's fearful,
  Though it's deep, though it's dark
  And though you may lose the path,
  Though you may encounter wolves,
  You can't just act,
  You have to listen.
  you can't just act,
  You have to think.
  Though it's dark,
  There are always wolves,
  There are always spells,
  There are always beans,
  Or a giant dwells there.
  So into the woods you go again,
  You have to every now and then.
  Into the woods, no telling when,
  Be ready for the journey.
  Into the woods, but not too fast
  or what you wish, you lose at last.
  Into the woods, but mind the past.
  Into the woods, but mind the future.
  Into the woods, but not to stray,
  Or tempt the wolf, or steal from the giant--
  The way is dark,
  The light is dim,
  But now there's you, me, her, and him.
  The chances look small,
  The choices look grim,
  But everything you learn there
  Will help when you return there.

There’s something interesting here that feels like a metaphor for where we are in the climate story and so much of it speaks to climate hope and climate resilience (to me, at least). Our future – like the woods – feels dark and scary and the impacts of climate change are already lurking. But we have to go into the Woods, listen and learn, act and deal with the dangers that have arisen because of what we wished for. Maybe I’m not explaining it very well, but there’s something about the wild wood that reflects the need to prepare for the unknowns that will come as a result of the climate crisis.

So should I continue down this storytelling route of embracing myth, magic and the ‘wild unknown’?


Free Making

Wild also means ‘freedom’. I’m seriously considering this as an opportunity to just do something else, something with no real context to it just to make art for arts sake. There’s things I want to learn to do – learn to oil paint, paint/draw just whatever… really, just make more skilled, finished outcome, traditional fine arty work than all this intangible, research-led or community-supportive stuff that I’ve done loads of in recent years. I find it difficult to actually find anything to submit to open calls or attach to applications… which says something.



I’ve also enrolled onto a year-long Permaculture Design Course which starts in April (meaning that I’ll be a qualified Permaculture Designer/Gardener next year!). I’ve known about Permaculture for a few years now, and I love the whole premise of it, and how it might be also applied to sustainable living as well as growing plants. Based in values of ‘People Care, Planet Care, Fair Share’, it’s an approach to sustainable land management and gardening/growing that adopts whole-system principles that have been observed in thriving natural ecosystems. It’s to plan in a way that isn’t over-interfering. To ‘rewild’ is a form of ecological restoration that seeks to restore natural processes and reduce human influence on ecosystems to increase biodiversity and promote ecological resilience. These feel aligned; there’s something about relinquishing control that really appeals to me. Most of the art work I’ve made over the last year has been exactly that, through the making of human:non-human creative collaborations. Do I develop this line of inquiry?

Permaculture Principles. Source: https://news.wherefrom.org/permaculture-design-ethics-principles/


And how might all this relate to G F Smiths paper? I’ve no real idea, except for the fact that (aside from mud and plants!) paper is my most favoured media. It’s sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable and accessible. I am, however, very curious about the journey from forest to page, if it is actually sustainable / carbon neutral, and the philosophical implications of how the forest voice might translate into product – or where it might elsewhere ‘speak’ in the factories. There’s an idea called Actor Network Theory (Bruno Latour) which argues that materials (or ‘actors’) may impact knowledge production. To plagiarize my earlier writing, it explains how supposed human qualities – such as agency, expertise, creative intention, symbolic meaning making or social relations – are entangled with and effected by all preceding influencing non-human actors. But does the voice of the tree become silenced in the paper-making process? And if so, when?

And this is another thing to get lost in philosophically (and therefore creatively).



Was hoping that writing out my main thoughts would help clarify things for me so I can get making. Well, they ain’t. I’ve just found more questions and nuances that I just can’t be arsed to type out because I’ve been thinking and writing for hours already.

But, this has helped me remember that I’m no longer the type of person who has to have control and choose between things with an and/or mindset. I can float and flit between things because I’m an and/both person nowadays. I find it helpful and freeing to pursue different things simultaneously, and I now trust that doing a bit of everything helps to identify the thing that I’m actually interested in (which usually sits in the middle of it all). I can go into the ‘wild’ and see what emerges, rather than assuming what I’ll find or over-preparing. I’m exploring many of these tracks already, and they’re all one and the same because we have no city walls in these woods to force any boundaries.

So what’s my next step? I think, honestly, it’s to dress the stage. Meaning I need to get a load of my crap into the studio and see what happens from there! I know I find deep and unsolvable conversation with others helpful, and I’m hoping to find that in the other participants and in Feral tutors. Onwards!

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