Running wild (no short cuts) a part of Our Liverpool Landscape: From Turner to Today is a subtle intervention on lawns in Princes Park, Everton Park, and Springfield Park; so subtle that you may not even notice it.
In each park an area of lawn is being left to grow wild. Ironically, in these times of austerity and cuts, one of the cuts many a council have made is to cut the cutting of municipal lawns and verges. Serendipitously, this cut is having positive effects for wildlife.
In 2010, I created grass is not green for Garten, Wiesbaden Kunstsommer 10, Wiesbaden, Germany. Set in a Romantic and Picturesque Grade I listed park – not too dissimilar to Liverpools Sefton Park - the work set out to challenge our aesthetic appreciation of landscape by letting the grass in the lawn grow. I argued that societys romantic notion of nature and ornamental parks is out-dated, and not in keeping with our times and the environmental challenges were facing today.
For three months, what grew and lived in the long lawn was recorded, as well as peoples interaction with the new habitat. With 39 species of wild flowers recorded, this long lawn grew into a bio-diverse habitat, attracting dragon flies, damsel flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, spiders, frogs, birds, dogs, picnickers, and children. What surprised me was not the biodiversity, but peoples reactions to, and interactions with, their new environment: it was used, appreciated, and loved by many.
Running wild has been developed by reflecting on my learnings from grass is not green. The lawns have been left to grow in parts of Princes Park, Everton Park, and Springfield Park and will be trimmed and fashioned to create running tracks: instead of short grass and white lines, long grass and cut lines.
Periodically, throughout July and August, fun runs will take place in the long running wild tracks. Fun runners (although any means of travelling through is welcomed) will be given felt gaiters to strap to their shins, or wheels, or whatever else comes into contact with the lawn. Seeds from the lawn will stick to the felt and the felt pads will then be transported from the park – from the parent plant – off to new territory. This could be in a back yard, or garden, or to one of the other participating parks – a kind of seed relay. With water, sunlight, (and a sprinkle of soil wouldnt go amiss) people engaged in the fun can watch the seeds germinate and sprout.
Running wild highlights how we humans are connected to nature (and encourages a bit of wildness!). Many species of plants have evolved with seed dispersal mechanisms reliant upon mammals. Some seeds have tiny barbs or hooks for the specific purpose of getting stuck in fur or hair. And we, as a part of the ecosystem, play our role. Seeds can find there way into the turn-ups of our trousers or attach themselves to our clothing.
To stimulate conversation about nature and environmental issues, the running wild grass track trimming will be a performance. During July, artist Lowri Evans and I will be on bended knee (or bums) snipping away at the long lawn with hand shears. Clad in period attire harking back to when the parks were created: (Victorian underwear for Princes and Springfield Park, and 70s feminine chic for Everton Park) we will cut and snip, and chat about nature. Our white floaty frocks and crisp linen bloomers will become smeared with lush green stains as we shunt along, cutting in the tracks. The lawns will make their mark on us as we make our mark in nature.
Kerry will be performing on 29 June in Springfield Park, 30 June in Everton Park as a part of the Out of the Blue Festival and 01 July in Princes Park. Find Kerry to learn more about this project. Tweet Kerry @kerrymmorrison
Kerry Morrison is an environment artist commissioned by Tate Liverpool to contribute to Our Liverpool Landscape a series of outdoor events inspired by Tate Liverpools summer exhibition, Turner Monet Twombly.