Where There's A Will There's A Way. 2022
Commissioned by Northern Roots Oldham for 10,000 Steps festival and Manchester Histories Festival.
In collaboration with Helen Mather.
Our on going project The Botanical Society is inspired by 19th century working-class Botanical Societies formed of passionate self-taught naturalists. We are looking to develop ideas around how their model can offer a fresh approach to tackle the climate emergency.
Self-taught working-class artisans applied scientific method where there was limited literacy and no expectation for them to pursue learning. Observing, and finding wonder in their urban environment, they forged a sense of combined purpose - their locale was both their laboratory and art school. They shared books, read to each other; shared and identified specimens, and undertook communal walks, communicating knowledge through drawings, creative and factual writings, conversation, and gardening.
We are interested in developing alternative spaces for learning, co-creating, and disseminating knowledge. In both urban and rural environments, we want to inspire local groups into creative action through observing, documenting, and communicating changes in these spaces, fostering a sense of ownership and agency in the context of the climate emergency.
Our ambition is to create modern Botanical Societies in towns and cities around the North-West of England, all “united with a kindly nature and an insatiable thirst for knowledge” (Cash, James. Where There’s a will there’s a way, 1873). Through different co-created approaches to observing, documenting, and sharing, we would like to develop communities of informed activists, facilitating a range of creative responses, driving outcomes through relevant knowledge, observation, and a passion for their local environment. These societies would elevate understanding and engagement with the environment and collaboration between communities, lasting beyond our intervention.
This version of the Botanical Society focussed on the local botanist John Mellor. We produced an interactive zine which folded out into a poster with information on John Mellor and his local discoveries, it was made pocket sized to be used on walks, with led exercises to facilitate mindful observing of plants in any environment. We gave a talk and presented the zine and a club badge on a walking tour as part of the 10,000 steps festival. We presented the zine and a history talk as part of the Manchester Histories festival along with leading a print making workshop with plants.