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My project started with a sense of wonder and curiosity, full of birdsong and Nan Shepherd's words. I wanted to bring in elements of a formal habitat survey (albeit somewhat incongruous with ICM) and document all the flourishing species we have growing on the land. Unexpectedly, as I reflected and journaled, I came up against questions of how we value our vegetation. Words like 'poor,' 'unimproved,' and 'unkempt' are very much part of the UK landscape language; ironically, these negative adjectives describe land with higher biodiversity than the artificially 'improved' areas. I thought about how we often strive to eliminate the edible (and medicinal) gifts on offer - like nettles and dandelions - in favour of getting our vitamins from factory-produced pills wrapped in plastic. How we are afraid of wild mushrooms and berries, clearing bramble patches because they are scratchy and wild, preferring a punnet of the same (less flavourful, but sanitised) fruit from the supermarket. My thoughts spiralled quite darkly, and it was an effort to haul myself out of that mindset. The depressing thought of humans being an extractivist species, dominating - yet fearful of the ecosystem. Reflecting on the work and the writing, I wasn't happy with its grimness and element of bitterness. Defocussed and confused, I wanted to turn it back to light and hope, suggestive of positive outcomes...to sit once more with the trees (should I cut them shorter to open up my view despite them being a valuable habitat?) and marvel at the abundant birdsong.


This project was created during an ICM photomap workshop in Spring 2021, you can see the other work created and exhibited here: 

https://www.icmphotomag.com/beginnings-workshop-2-exhibition/morag-paterson


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