I’ve just spent three, fantastic, consecutive weekends, cycling the streets of three neighbourhoods in Liverpool with the Counterculture Nature team.  Counterculture Nature addresses the unplanned, unmanaged, unexpected, wildscape within the built environment, our Liverpool landscape.

  • The Counterculture Nature team
    The Counterculture Nature team

Our exploration for nature in brownfields took us around Toxteth, Knotty Ash, and Everton: distinctly different districts through culture, history, and architecture, yet all containing wild nature, most of which was barricaded off behind hoardings, palisade fencing, railings and barbed wire. And, when put like that, you might wonder why the last 3 weekends were fantastic, for, to be sure, the sheer amount of oppressive security measures around people abandoned places, is, indeed, a sight for sore eyes.

It was fantastic because of the company, the Counterculture Nature team: James Brady, Jenny Carter, Martin Dickenson, Shannen Fisher, Christof Haeberle, Amy Parker, and Lynn Tolmon: environmentalists, local community activists, emerging artists. 

Tags tied to brownfield sites
Tags tied to brownfield sites enable residents to learn more about Counterculture Nature, directing them to our website, blogs and social media accounts

Collectively, we travelled at a pace - cycling - that allowed us to see, hear, and smell the intricacies that make up each of these neighbourhoods, as well as feel the atmosphere. It was easy to stop to soak up more of what we were encountering, to take the time to look closely, and to talk to people. And when you look closely, and listen, you observe and learn a lot about a place.

Brownfield site hidden behind railings
Brownfield hidden behind railings

When you have your hands filled with palisade rails, your eyes peering between gaps, you do get to see nature untamed.  Yes, at times it can be frustrating being on the outside looking in, but then there are the brownfield spaces that can be explored. Brownfields, along with the stories told of past times - enriching moments of our journey-  have given something that I, personally, will remember and treasure for years to come.

Recording information about the brownfield
Recording information about the brownfield

For each and every site encountered, we’ve filled out survey sheets.  A wealth of data is now piled, and piling up on my workspace floor; each day of discovery stored in a folder. An intense process: the most intense element of Our Liverpool Landscape. As such, data analysis doesn’t begin until the cycling is complete. And, Counterculture Nature will continue cycling until 28th October. The nature exposed tumblr will continue to grow, recording, in more detail, brownfield sites encountered. And quintessential counterculture nature: in our Liverpool landscape will be blogged here.  Check back for more details.

Kerry Morrison is an environment artist commissioned by Tate Liverpool to contribute to Our Liverpool Landscape: From Turner to Today a series of outdoor events inspired by Tate Liverpool’s summer exhibition, Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings.