Deep Peat

Deep Peat: Climate Change and Conservation in a Deep Time landscape
with Flows to the Future and artist Hannah Imlach  / RSPB Forsinard

This field trip is part of the Practicing Deep Time conference taking place at Timespan and in the surrounding environments of East Sutherland and Caithness on 23 + 24 March 2018. For more details and information on how to book please visit the Practicing Deep Time page.

In this field trip, developed in partnership with the Flows to the Future team at RSPB Forsinard, we head inland and up strath to The Flow Country, where the deep time materiality of the peatland landscape intersects with contemporary issues of climate change and conservation.

A large, rolling expanse of peatland in Caithness and Sutherland in the north of Scotland, the Flow Country the biggest blanket bog in Europe and the best example of its type in the world. It is home to a rich variety of wildlife and is a hugely important carbon store, of increasing importance in our fight against climate change. Together with associated areas of moorland and open water, large areas of the peatlands are designated as being of both national and international importance.

Although this is a wild landscape, it is not untouched by man, and some areas of deep peat were damaged by afforestation in the 1970s and 1980s. At Forsinard, there is an ongoing programme of restoration on a scale not seen elsewhere in the UK and a significant amount of research in the Flow Country looking at its role in mitigating climate change.

This field trip offers an introduction to this environment through the practices of those who work in it. Travelling in off-road vehicles, we will look at some of the ongoing restoration work with staff from the Flows to the Future team, take cores of peat with researchers from the Environmental Research Institute at the Universities of the Highlands and Islands, and visit the flux towers, used for monitoring carbon dioxide with current Flows to the Future artist-in-residence Hannah Imlach.

Contributors and partners

Hannah Imlach is a Scottish visual artist working predominantly in sculpture. Her transient and site-specific works respond to specific landscapes or recent development in scientific understanding and often focus on environments threatened by changing climate. The objects she creates are designed to be activated by a participant and often reference recognizable forms, acting as shelter, jacket, kite or turbine.

Since graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 2011, Hannah has focused on site-specific residencies and commissions, particularly those which offer opportunities to work directly with scientists and environmental researchers. Recently completed projects include the On Energy residency exploring renewable energy at the Banff
Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada and a year-long Leverhulme Trust residency with marine biologists at Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities.

Hannah is current artist-in-residence with the Peatland Partnership creating artwork in response to peatland habitat restoration in Caithness and Sutherland.

Flows to the Future (FTTF) is an ambitious project which is restoring areas of blanket bog in the heart of the Flow Country that have been damaged by forestry planting. It also seeks to involve and connect people everywhere with this precious habitat, delivering real economic benefits for one of the least densely populated areas in Scotland.

The project is far-reaching, ambitious and is significantly increasing the level of conservation management in the Flow Country, and through a broad range of initiatives, is building awareness and opportunities for learning and engagement with the peatlands. This commission is one such initiative. The project is being delivered by the Peatlands Partnership with RSPB Scotland as the lead partner.