Welcome to an artist’s exploration of wetland cultures!
I began Peat Cultures (Veencultuur) to work with people committed to invigorating peatlands culturally and ecologically. In 2016 I started to work as an artist to support a Scottish peatland restoration project aiming to prevent further erosion of peatlands. Alongside this grassroots commitment, a scholarship in Wageningen University, The Netherlands, allowed me to work with an interdisciplinary peatland research team to add a new perspective. The Home Turf and Wetfutures projects’ research acquainted me with the cultural and archaeological significance of Dutch peatlands. I am continuing this project as artist in residence in the World Soil Museum with the aim of creating dialogue and valuing wetland soils. My project began with Peatland Exchanges which brought interdisciplinary researchers at Wageningen University together in the context of the World Soil Museum. Four online sessions focussed on different themes, each concluding with my response as artist. This develops as part of Our Living Soil, an art-science programme alongside the 2022 World Soil Congress.
As an independent artist, I began this project, wanting to get to know about different wetland cultures and to make new artwork. Wetlands contribute to culture, skills and knowledge – a living heritage. I might have webbed feet, but now I live between different wetland cultures and have much to learn. I was brought up on the East Anglian salt marshes and this shaped my early sense of landscape. Later, I lived in Southern Scottish uplands and learnt to love their characteristic Mosses and Flows. Somehow, in the hills, on peatlands, I am still somehow waiting for the saltwater tide to come in. Spending time in The Netherlands too, I am learning to see how peatlands have been transformed into highly managed cultural landscapes. I value surviving wetlands for what they offer to my quality of life – a lively wildness experienced through the senses, with special plants, creatures and sounds.
There have been three stages of the project so far:
Work in Galloway to support Peatland Connections
In 2018 I began to help create Peatland Connections with the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership programme, in a peatland restoration project led by the Crichton Carbon Centre.
This work is summarised in Creative Carbon’s Library of Creative Sustainability.
Practice-based research: “Developing Peat Cultures”
Between 2017-2019 I explored how my artwork could relate to peatland restoration through a practice-based Masters research dissertation in Interdisciplinary Creative Practice at Edinburgh College of Art. This was also a chance to connect to peatland contexts in South East Asia (presentations on World Wetlands Day 2017).
Artist in residence to the Home Turf Project, The Netherlands.
In 2020, I am benefiting from an Erasmus+ placement in the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands. As artist in residence, I am responding to the research programme of the Home Turf Project and Wetfutures teams. There is a wealth of expertise to draw on from these interdisciplinary research projects focussed on the cultural heritage of wetlands in The Netherlands and elsewhere.
Residency in the World Soil Museum
I am continuing this project as artist in residence in the World Soil Museum with the aim of creating dialogue and valuing wetland soils. My project began with Peatland Exchanges which brought interdisciplinary researchers at Wageningen University together in the context of the World Soil Museum. Four online sessions focussed on different themes, each concluding with my response as artist. This develops as part of Our Living Soil, an art-science programme alongside the 2022 World Soil Congress.
This project began during the COP21 Climate Talks in Paris in 2015 by working with Nadiah Rosli, a Malaysian environmental journalist, to create “Peatland Actions – Questions of scale” as a contribution to the exhibition Submerge. Our exhibit and presentation made connections between the Solway peatlands in Scotland and Nadiah’ experience of the impacts of tropical peatland fires in South East Asia. I was able to develop these themes in 2016 by facilitating an arts-environment event in Dumfries, Scotland. This included a peat-core workshop and a day long symposium.
These links give further backstory to Peat Cultures.
A pecha kucha talk on River Ways and Land Uses contributed to Mapping the Borders exhibition in November 2017, part of the Being Human festival.
Piloting Strategies: arts and land use. Blogpost on www.ecoartscotland.net Kate Foster & Claire Pençak (2016)
Engaging with peatland restoration as embedded art practices within landscape partnerships.(2018) Blogpost on www.ecoartscotland.net Kate Foster & Kerry Morrison
How deep is your bog? Workshop on Beggars Moss
for the love of … Sphagnum: craftivism, and mosses from east to west
A blind eye – Nutberry Moss and peat milling
Lungs of the earth – Wind Resistance, and peat extraction at Auchencorth Moss
Twitter : @peat_cultures
Email: Kate Foster on email@example.com
Text and images © Kate Foster (website administrator) unless otherwise stated. All external sources are linked or referenced. If you find the project work useful for publications etc, please do get in touch. Peat Cultures is a non-profit and voluntary project. Web design support from defreeze.co.uk