The Mersey Hinterlands Collective seek to explore the ecologies of three wasteland sites (under private ownership) located along the Mersey Estuary in North West England. The specific sites will soon be announced and described.
Our first site is Bidston Moss (Old Docks) on the Wirral peninsula, River Mersey. This site is located at the coastal entrance to the Mersey Basin watershed. Prior to the construction of the docks in the 19th century, Bidston Moss was a tidal salt marsh (also known as Wallasey Pool). Later in the 19th century this littoral landscape became a domestic waste landfill site. Part of this land was restored in the early 1990s in an environmental reclamation project, soon to become the Bidston Moss Nature Reserve (hill woodland and lake habitat). The dock was constructed in the early 1930s and had three large cranes which were dismantled in the late 1990s. Bidston Dock was subsequently decommissioned and landfilled in the early 2000s. Since 2003 the land has remained dormant of human activity.
<p>Bidston Moss: Peel Holdings</p>
Bidston Moss: access possible via the railings of the old Penny Bridge on Bidston Dock Road.
Our philosophy revolves around the potential ecological benefits of turning these urban post-industrial estuary wasteland sites into 'Commons' - common ownership for the common good (human and non-human). In what ways can emerging creative relationships with the sites, effect positive civic change in their perception and use by communities? Whilst observing the intrinsic ecologies of the sites, what kinds of narratives begin to unfold?
We seek the participation and multiple perspectives of artists, designers, social and political actors and citizens to explore the ‘intrinsic’ ecological value and the (natural) histories embodied within each site, deliberately eschewing the Capitalist tendency to address the existence of ‘natural capital’. This is taking place through a process of dialogue with nearby communities and a ‘performative dialogue’ with the place, involving guided tours and citizen research/archive days hosted on site by the artists in temporary ‘theatres for research’. The inclusive creative process will also consider and question the fundamental idea of ‘property’ and thus address the possibility of the sites becoming ‘Commons’: under common collective ownership.
We are interested in the monopolisation of much of the North West’s post-industrial land, the purchasing and ‘banking’ of this space, and what interim activity is permitted, tolerated or forbidden, and the disparity between this and how the land perhaps should be used. We are interested in how the further exposure of urban wastelands could help or hinder their current status as semi-autonomous melting pot environments. Can this process be mutually beneficial to both local governments, landowners and users of the wastelands or are their interests in the sites conflictual? This polemic will be at the core of critical discourse during this project, and into the future.
We are keen to involve local residents, other artists exploring this idea or specific site, scientists, botanists, bioremediation specialists, landowners, lawyers, academics, and any interested parties.