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Soft estate

By Edward Chell, Richard Mabey and Sara-Jayne Parsons


Soft Estate is the term used by the Highways Agency to describe the natural habitats that line our motorways and trunk roads. While roads play a major role in opening up land for development, their verges offer a refuge for wildlife and a modern form of wilderness in the midst of urbanisation and agro-chemical farming. Our road network, the site of some of our most carbon-intensive activity, is flanked by Britain's largest unofficial nature reserve.\ud \ud This practice-led research aims to visually investigate these under-represented areas of wilderness, both as ecological and metaphorical spaces and as reflectors of the changing relationships between travel, the environment and landscape imagery within British culture. In framing this research I draw on the English Landscape and 'picturesque' tradition of the 18th century, which still informs understanding of landscape. \ud \ud Early tourists travelled to areas such as the Lakes to capture images of wild places; today, uncontrolled wilderness only springs up in the margins of transport networks and the semi-derelict grid plans of industrialised corridors. I argue that these Edgelands invite a new kind of tourist, new ways of looking and new forms of visual representation. In drawing on the landscape tradition, and capturing details of the flora and fauna of the verge, my work engages viewers with landscapes that appear familiar and uncanny, traditional and strangely futuristic.\ud \ud The book incorporates a range of Edward Chell's related art works including gesso panels, installations, larger canvases and paper works. The publication, with foreword by Bluecoat director Bryan Biggs includes essays by curator Sara-Jayne Parsons, artists and academic, Edward Chell and the environmental activist and author Richard Mabey.\ud \ud This project has been supported through a year long AHRC Fellowship under the Highlight Theme, Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past

Topics: GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography, HE Transportation and Communications
Publisher: Bluecoat
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:
Provided by: UCA Research Online

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