Energy Landscapes

Today I gave a paper at the European Conference of the Landscape Research Group
Energy Landscapes Perception, Planning, Participation and Power

It needed more crafting as I have more fieldwork to do, and academic reading to complete, however presenting it helped. It’s now time to think about shaping it the way I did for a project called theirwork which is published in Re-thinking Maps. (Connolly, E. & Williamson, D. (2009) ‘theirwork: The Development of a Sustainable Mapping Tool’, Rethinking Maps: New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory, London: Routledge.)

Is TAGSCAPE something I can interject into different spaces? If so, are they going to be spaces that negotiate energy production on a larger scale? Patrick Devine-Wright’s key note speech helped me to think about the different people that I gather data from in the context of landscape and resource use. At the end of my talk, he said it will be interesting to see if I can take TAGSCAPE into an energy landscape. To achieve this, as Bryony Fowler of Clean Earth Energy pointed, I need to develop a tool kit. At the moment, I am working on natural and perceptual data collection however, I have always been thinking about how to interject the small-scale charcoal making that happens at Crenver (Beech) Grove, and the commercial softwood production that is Bellever Forest.


On Friday I go on a field trip to Leipzig. It’s a good time to be taken out of context – The field trip includes a walk along the Parthe river and a ‘pic nic discussion’ with researchers and stakeholders from the region. 



Dresden approaching

This month I go to Dresden and give a paper about #tagscape at a conference called Energy Landscapes Perception, Planning, Participation and Power. I then travel to Bristol to present the project and other mapping jobs I have been involved in. It’s good timing, the rest of July and August have been difficult in terms of advancing the project. Things like the leaves on the trees have not helped me with I.D skills, and I haven’t found it easy to take GPS readings in the woods. And then of course, everyone is on holiday.
Just before Dresden, I will finalise how I am going to database perceptual and natural data. In October, I can then start resolving technical and production issues. It’ll be good to present what I have learnt and my plan of action.  Plus, I need to start critically evaluating the project and I don’t think there’s a better way than to share the work with an academic community who are into landscape.

Eco-system Services

I’m going to make a model about the topic Eco-system Services. I am not sure how yet. I will draw inspiration from the unexpected as well as the expected, and from some of my favourite people like Nam june paik, Pierre Huyghe and one of the best exhibitions this year at the V& A.

‘Disobedient Objects’








So far I am using Tree I.D. quadrants ideas to plot where Landscape Character Assessment data is located in a spatial square. Below I am plotting what makes a landscape using a Welsh framework (more ref. to come soon) and within it I am thinking where does perceptual and eco-system service data sit. This will help me to draw and make maps about it. A few people have said the term seems too mechanical; another way of measuring and dividing up landscape and what wilderness we have. I guess that’s why I am looking at the collection and display of perceptual data; to see if communicating perceptions about such things makes them less mechanical but more importantly, gathers data about how people feel about different types of services in an area.


The Dark Side

A meeting with Dr Faye Davey, a GIS natural data specialist from the University of Plymouth, made me realise out of all the fieldwork areas I have been to, it’s Bellever Forest on Dartmoor that is the perfect partner to Crenver Grove in Cornwall. I have to pick two areas that tagscape is going to concentrate on from this moment on – we discussed how these two areas are opposites. One is the summery light filled memory of English childhood, the other is the dark Germanic stuff of nightmares. And then Crenver is quiet with local communities only knowing it is there, whereas Bellever is well signed for the tourist. Now I am going to learn about the different soils in each place.

Rate My View

Sense your landscape #databasing with #ratemyview 


‘Rate my View’ is an innovative new app (iOS and Android) developed by Plymouth University and South Devon AONB.

The app is designed to assist with landscape management, protection and planning by collecting views from stakeholders.

Last year I formed a small design team and worked with Dr. John Martin and Roger English to develop design material to help start to promote the app. Andy Hughes has been the photographer for the promotional work, and David Everitt the filmmaker. A year later, I am using Rate My View with #tagscape to collect and extract data. A perfect sustainable design loop!



I’ve been digging into the past to get out my own archive materials to help me think about #tagscape. I realised I should dig because the project keeps pulling me towards woodland and I have dealt in small ways with this landscape type before. Dave of Cotna (an Eco Retreat) who teaches Tree Identification, said we have this deep need to go back to the woods. I thought about my work, and actually yes, in the past I have tried to ‘return’ to the forest.

I grew up on a coast of heather, and that’s still where I feel most at home, however, it seems I have this need to hang out with Woodlanders as well as ocean people. For a start, my dad was a taxidermist and as a child I was surrounded by woodland and sea animals on walls, tables, floors and in freezers. Key owls still stare down at me, alongside them are big fat Pufferfish. Botanical items are staged in between.

I helped stuff the animals. When I was small, he took me out into the landscape where they had come from but when it came to woodland, we only had a few copses near to us. After this, it was travel, trains and theatre that shaped my arts career and I studied and worked in cities for a bit. This childhood of stuffed animals, accompanied by hours on the beach (and weekly church attendance) had shaped me though. My dad was a vicar, hiker and canoeist as well as a painter/maker; I liked presenting stuff, sports, lifesaving as well as model-making – all of these things, along with the taxidermic, are theatrical stages.

After an arts foundation, I studied theatre design. The plays, operas and musicals that I had to design still stick in my mind. The Cunning Little Vixen was a woodland and political study. I went to Czechoslovakia just after it was ‘free’ and stayed with art students who battled acid rain. The forest was my stage for three months. Now I realise I loved it. Before the Cunning Little Vixen, I studied the just as dark Into the Woods. Since then I’ve clambered at woods via train windows, visited them via stories, and swum in the direct experience of them when travelling near rivers, such as swimming in a Redwood forest in California.


During theatre design weeks, I would hang out in the Natural history museum and study Imaginations mixed display of quiet anarchy – poised hares are staged next to Pacboy-like computer interfaces, plants radiate beams of light alongside giant sculptures that are cellular in shape. (Although these are old displays now, some of them are still more creative than the exhibition design and its interactivity of the past two decades)

It was exhibition design that started to fuel my career after the theatre design course, and when studying museology, I worked abroad and in Cornwall on a few projects that were connected to trees and management. I also had a window to learn to snowboard in dense trees away from hoards of tourists.

snow_ghost_1 snow_ghosts_2 snow_ghosts_spread

Years later, I am living by several woods, and although I spend time in them, it’s not nearly enough. The forays from the past have been short and now I need to learn about woodland in a deeper way. It’s definitely time to pull out my own forest resources, and to research new resources. I need spend time working with people to learn, share and communicate how to manage and protect them. It is time to build a WOODLAND TAGSCAPE.

A Harris Hawk Greets


On one of my first Leverhulme Trust AIR days at the University of Plymouth and the first things to greet me are bicycle racks and Hawks. How great. They are there to deter the seagulls from their eggs. The brilliant keeper, Welsh Ashley, is up for a woodland flight with a crew of birds. Watch this space.