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Researchers launch innovative exhibition to celebrate Natural England’s 70th Anniversary

July 29, 2022

An interactive new art exhibition curated by researchers from Edge Hill University is travelling to nature reserves across the North West to mark Natural England’s 70th birthday.

The From the Land to the Sky exhibition forms part of Natural England’s 70th anniversary celebrations to help visitors understand what disadvantaged communities have to say about the natural environment.

Professor of Culture, Communication and Screen Studies, Claire Parkinson has brought together artists and disadvantaged groups to produce artworks examining what animals can teach us about our landscapes. Together they explored farms, nature reserves, and allotments to consider the different ways in which people and other species make sense of the world. 

Artist: Sue Flowers

Professor Parkinson, who is also Director of the University’s Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS), said: 

“One of the reasons we have a climate crisis is that we only think about things from our human perspective. This project builds on research undertaken by members of the Edge Hill’s CfHAS which explores our interconnections with other species and highlights the problems of adopting a wholly human-centred view of the world. 

“This exhibition is about landscape stories from local communities that imagine interactions with other species, consider the wider environment that we are part of, and make connections between humans and the natural world.”  

Artist: Claire Dean

Using installations, video, sculpture, photography and paintings, the exhibition conveys different landscapes that imagine connections between humans and other species. They use multispecies storytelling to capture the voices of marginalised communities and disadvantaged groups; those who don’t usually have a say in decisions about landscapes and landscape use.  

The artworks will be on display at Hindley Library and Community Centre from 25 to 31 July; Ainsdale Sand Dunes Natural Nature Reserve from 1 to 8 August; Leighton Moss RSPB Nature Reserve from 9 to 15 August; and Art Gene Gallery, Barrow-in-Furness from 12 September to 12 October.

Mike Downey, Natural England’s Senior Adviser for National Nature Reserves said: “It has been fantastic working with Edge Hill to help showcase this project through some of the reserves in the region. The exhibitions offer a great opportunity for communities to connect with nature and our reserves in different ways, and it’s a pleasure to be able to support this as part of our summer long Festival of National Nature Reserves.”  

 The project was funded by the UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Landscape Decisions funding programme.

It involved Edge Hill colleagues Professor Brett Mills, Dr Lara Herring and Dr Hannah Parathian, as well as Professor Candice Satchwell from the University of Central Lancashire. They engaged with a wide range of community groups, including Royal Cross Primary School, Furness College, Autus, Burscough Community Farm, and Learning Stars. 

Edge Hill’s Centre for Human Animal Studies was the first research centre of its kind in Europe and is an interdisciplinary forum for research and activities that engage with the complex material, ethical and symbolic relationships between humans, other animals, and their environments.  

CfHAS brings together scholars from the arts and humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to examine how rethinking our relations with animals can create meaningful social, policy, environmental, ethical and cultural change. 

To discover more about our courses, please visit  

July 29, 2022


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