Arts project celebrates rare natural wetland from opposite sides of the planet
Two of the world’s most famous wetland areas are joining forces to celebrate their rare natural environments in a unique arts project. One is the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve, which is managed by Natural England, located on the border between Shropshire and Wrexham. The other is Macquarie Marshes in New South Wales, Australia.
The Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve has been undergoing restoration work thanks to the BogLife Project, a partnership between Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Shropshire Wildlife Trust, which is restoring the Marches Mosses, as they are collectively known, back to nature. The Arts Council and National Lottery funded project will celebrate this work through artists Andrew Howe and his Australian colleague Kim Goldsmith. They will lead the project exploring the environmental challenges faced on opposite sides of the planet.
Andrew Howe said, ‘We are delighted and hugely grateful to the Arts Council England and the National Lottery for this funding. It will enable us to work with other artists and local partners such as Wem Youth Club and Shropshire Wildlife Trust.’
Andrew and Kim will explore some of the hidden values of the wetlands, those values sometimes not considered in the fight to save them. This will lead to the development of new artworks for a public exhibition at Qube Gallery, Oswestry in October 2021 with further arts based events developed in partnership with the local community.
The BogLife project manager, Robert Duff of Natural England, said: ‘With the recent focus on the importance of nature, this is a great opportunity for the Marches Mosses BogLife Project to gain wider recognition by spreading the message about environmental restoration through this wonderful arts venture. We look forward to working in partnership with the artists.’
The Mosses is the third largest raised bog in the United Kingdom and is a key to preventing climate change by holding 24 million tonnes of carbon. Healthy peat locks carbon in, holding more carbon, acre for acre, than woodland. But if peat is allowed to dry out, or is cut for burning or garden compost, the carbon is released into the atmosphere as CO2, thus adding to the climate crisis. Peat is 90% water, making the Mosses a natural protection against flooding – slowing the flow downstream.
Picture credit: The Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve –