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  • Writer's pictureRachael Prime

Narrowing Focus with the Survey Square Technique

From conversations with the MGET (Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust) I was reminded of a basic technique to survey a habitat, the Survey Square. This method, reminiscent of my days in GCSE Science, involved marking out a designated square and observing the species within it. By repeating this process, a surveyor can gain insights into the diverse array of incense and plants inhabiting the area, as well as providing a snapshot of the habitat’s overall health.

One challenge I faced in my work was the longstanding artistic tradition of attempting to capture the entire landscape through sketching, photography and other mediums. This often overwhelmed me, prompting a shift towards focusing on the small, often overlooked details. However, the Survey Square techniques offered a solution by limiting my focus on a small area, allowing for through observation. Using photography initially I delved into the macro world living and growing underneath the familiar landmarks of the Mersey Gateway and Jubilee Bridges. 

The ultimate aim of this project is to translate my observations into artwork, revealing the unseen worlds at our feet. Sketching provided instrumental in absorbing the intricate details of individual plants, from their shapes to their textures. Amidst my sketches, I became attuned to the ambient sounds, from the bridge’s hum to the birdsong echoing from the nearby marshlands. Incorporating these sensory elements into my work adds depth and connection to the specific space and moment in time. 

Returning to the spot I had chosen, on Wigg Island, for multiple sketching sessions allowed me to witness the habitat’s evolution over time and across spring and summer seasons. Moving forward, I intend to continue the practice, capturing the ever-changing landscape that can be found at our feet rather than on the horizon. 

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