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Nature Recovery Workshop

Creative engagement with peatlands in nature Recovery/landscape change - with Prof Melanie Giles, Prof John Wedgwood Clarke and Dr Rose Ferraby

This workshop is of interest to those working on nature-based recovery, peatlands, and/or creative methods for public engagement.

It will explore how creative approaches of visual art and poetry can help think through the complex ideas and practical challenges involved in nature recovery projects in peatland landscapes. There are many hidden or invisible histories and processes at play in peatlands: archaeological archives in the peat, hydrological processes, ecological systems and contemporary human narratives. As such, it can be difficult for us to comprehend and communicate these complexities, or to imagine these landscapes in the future. How might creative approaches help these processes in communities prepare and imagine landscape change and alternative futures?

This workshop will combine creative exercises with explorations of projects and discussions about broader issues and understandings of landscape change in peatlands. The day will be led by Mel, Rose and John, each sharing some of their own work and leading exercises and discussions that provide participants with the time and space to creatively explore and discuss the challenges and creative potential of their own projects, through image and word. This is a workshop about relaxed creative exploration and developing discussions, so no prior experience in art or poetry is necessary!

Programme Tuesday 28th May 

Location: AIAS, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, building 1630, room 301.

10:00-10:15 Welcome and introductions 
10:15-11:00 Creative Exercise 1 (Sound Drawing, led by Doctor Rose Ferraby)
11:00-11:15 Coffee break
11:15-13:00 Creative Exercise 2 (Peat Collages, led by Doctor Rose Ferraby) and project discussion
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Creative Exercise 3 (Peat Poetry led by Professor John Wedgwood Clarke, including ‘Bog Talk’ methods sharing)
15:30-16:00 Peat: Past, Present, Future (led by Professor Melanie Giles) and closing discussion


Melanie Giles is a specialist in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Manchester, with current projects focused on the archaeology of peatlands (including her monograph ‘Bog Bodies’ 2020) as well as wider studies of prehistoric burials, grave goods and the theme of violence and warrior identity. She has collaborated with a range of artists and poets, to support a range of museum exhibitions and research projects through collaborative, creative methods.

John Wedgwood Clarke is a poet and creative writing professor at the University of Exeter with a strong interest in the relationship between the human species impact on landscapes and the way nature responds. His work tends to focus on damaged and overlooked sites (e.g. his 2017 collection Landfill), where biodiversity thrives in unexpected ways. He takes a interdisciplinary approach to project work and often collaborates with other artists and scientists. You can read more about his recently completed project about a mine-waste polluted river at www.redriverpoetry.com. His latest work focus on the cultural significance of bogs and their ecological complexity. 

Rose Ferraby is an artist and archaeologist whose work often explores our relationships with landscape through time. She’s interested in materials and how processes of making can create new understandings of place, from stone in deep quarries to wood in ancient monuments. Her creative work spans printmaking and collage, sound, film and writing to find ways of engaging the public imagination with landscapes and sites that are hidden or invisible. She is using this approach on nature recovery projects in the UK, working particularly with peatlands. You can explore her work online: www.roseferraby.com


Registration is open, please sign up here. Registration deadline: Friday 24 May at noon.


Related workshop on Wednesday 29th May

Please note that following this workshop on Tuesday 28th May, there will be a related workshop on Wednesday 29th May hosted at Moesgaard Manor with a visit to Moesgaard Museum. This workshop will focus on: Creativity and display of the moss in museums: landscapes, objects, and human remains.

This is a day to develop and share ideas about how we narrate and display peatland landscapes, objects, and bog bodies in museums. Read more about the workshop on Wednesday 29th May here and sign up for the tour at Moesgaard Museum here.