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  • Writer's pictureRachael Prime

Connecting with Nature: A Creative Day with Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust and Sound Artist Wendy Smith.

All Photographs: Quayle Social

In a bustling world filled with technology and fast-paced living, it's essential to reconnect with nature and prioritise our well-being. As her Arts Council project developed, this became more important to Rachael Prime, exploring further by looking to different techniques to document nature right at our doorstep.

Partnering again with the Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust (MGET) and connecting with local sound artist Wendy Smith, Rachael organised a creative CPD (Continue Professional Development) day at one of Halton’s most famous green spaces, Spike Island.

Different members of both MGET and Hazlehurst Studios were invited to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, allowing it to inspire creativity and foster a sense of well-being. Attendees had the opportunity to experience this familiar place from a discipline unfamiliar to them, the Artists explored the world through the world of sound, Scientists explored visual art techniques for documentation, and the Sound Artist learned ways sounds could be used to help document important data and vice versa.

One highlight of the CPD day was the MGET demonstrating easily accessible apps to help identify plants and how this small act of documentation works towards collecting community data around species growing in certain areas. Participants learned how this technology can help enhance their understanding of the local ecosystem that they may have overlooked on previous visits.

Furthermore, sound artist Wendy Smith demonstrated different techniques for recording sound, emphasising the importance of being aware of the noises one makes oneself. Not to necessarily remove them entirely, but to purposefully include them in this effect you wanted to record. By encouraging participants to listen to their surroundings Wendy helped to facilitate techniques to listen mindfully to their surroundings. Highlighting the multitude of sounds that surround us daily, both natural and also man-made.

Before the start of the session Wendy has suggested two free apps that can be downloaded to smart devices.

Dolby On: Is a user-friendly app that enhances recorded sound to produce optimal recordings. It’s an excellent choice for beginners getting accustomed to recording and integrates seamlessly with various social media platforms.

Rode Reporter: The app offers increased flexibility in recording while remaining highly user-friendly. Connecting with an external microphone provides even greater adaptability.

Incorporating soundscapes into the exploration action creates another dimension to Rachael Prime's practice. Allowing her audiences to have another connection to the space that inspired her artworks emerging them further into spaces that may be familiar in a new way. Building upon her existing visual art techniques of sketching elements of interest that may first be overlooked such as moss or fungi. Focusing on key elements important to the plant structure and how the plant interacts with the surrounding environment.

In addition to this CPD MGET and Hazlehurst Studios led their first partnered Wellbeing walks. Using these learned techniques allows participants to connect with the nature around them and foster conversations between participants. The sessions were both pilots allowing both organisations to build their skills and techniques to then roll out further sessions with Halton’s green spaces.

Overall the collaborative CPD day organised by Rachael Prime and Hazlehurst Studios demonstrated the role of visual art, ecology, and sound art to create a deeper engagement with our local green spaces. As well as engaging the community fostering a genuine connection to our environment and inspiring collective action for a more sustainable future.

Honorable mention to Gili Armson who attended, she joined us for the first time and shared so many wondering ideas with all of the participants of the CPD session and the first Wellbeing Walk pilot. Thank you for coming Gili!

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