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  • Carys Mainprize

Art, Science, and the Benefits of Collaboration

During October and November, CCC was involved with many events. One of these was the Pendle In-Situ symposium: DEEP PEAT // People, Ecology, Art, and Terrain: Starting a Collaboration on the 17th November.

Jayne and Anna travelled down to be one of the two projects talking at the event, and now reflect on their experience.


The peatland symposium was a one-day event held at Pendle Hill and was a blend of in-person and online attendees. The morning comprised of two presentations: one from The Crichton Carbon Centre and one from In-situ. Both organisations have successfully combined art and science within their projects (Peatland Connections and In-Situ). These have led to a rich collaboration that enhances both science and art.

Jayne speaks about Peatland Connections.

The Carbon Centre's presentation was kicked off with a film of Dr Emily Taylor and artist Kate Foster. A discussion followed about their collaboration through Peat Cultures, and how art and science can complement and inspire one another.

Watch the film (23 minutes) to hear what they had to say about science and art.

This was followed by our Peatland Action Project Officer - Anna Basley - talking about peatland restoration and the importance of healthy peatlands as well as the restoration work that's being undertaken in Dumfries and Galloway. Given the technical aspects of why healthy peatlands are important, this was the perfect opportunity to introduce Peatland Connections – our project combining arts and science to engage communities with their local peatlands. The community voice is vital in the discussion on land use and our project poses the questions "what do peatlands mean to you?" and "what value do they hold for us all?".

Jayne, Peatland Connections project officer, and Kerry Morrison, environmental artist, engage with the community in New Galloway.

Collaboration with the arts is an important aspect of Peatland Connections and greatly assists in community engagement. We have a programme of workshops planned for next year which will be announced via our designated project website and socials.

We work a lot with Kate Foster, and our presentation was finished off with Kate's experience and perspective of working with CCC and how this collaboration deepened and enriched her own practice.

“I was amazed at the way each artist discussed obstacles with collaborative working (art and science) and some of the difficulties faced when communicating between each of these different disciplines. I like data in a spreadsheet (!), but they really helped me to visualise that data can be presented in interesting, and possibly more engaging ways.” - Anna, Peatland ACTION project officer.

Lunch was quite the affair with the Pendle peat pie - this is the artists' rendition.

In the afternoon, groups discussed four questions:

· Where to look for partners/ how to look for collaboration?

· What did I discover and learn/what surprised me?

· What do we bring and how to work together?

· Open dialogue table and questions

The answers for question 1 included:

· Move away from being angry and move towards inspiring instead.

· When you can visualise it, it does seem quite shocking.

· Artists are allowed to be curious and wonder and engage

· I get it!

· Bogs are pretty cool!

· Didn't know there were bogs in the UK

· Whiskey....

· Not knowing where peat in compost comes from.

· Stat 3% world land but 30% world carbon.

· Wrong tree wrong place.

· Learned that gullies and hags are not just part of the landscape but erosion.

· There's poetry in science.

· Garden centres are on the front line and should do more

Through these discussions, it was clear that the interaction between the arts and science really enhance one another and allow both sides to have a different perspective. This leads to a new and unique aspect to any project.

The collaboration between science and the arts is so important and finding a way forward to work in more ways is something we should all be considering. Together we can deepen our understanding of a subject and add value to each other, creating a rich tapestry of connection and meaning.

“I felt the whole concept to be incredibly inspiring. I left the event feeling even more motivated and encouraged. The restoration work we do is important for all, and it doesn’t matter what background you have or what your interests might. Collaborative working helps us all to learn and be inspired. I honestly can’t wait for the next event!” Anna added.

Peatland Connections is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership.

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