A selection of images from a two-day creative workshop that took place at Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex in October 2017. The Estate is home to Knepp Wildland Project, a large-scale conservation initiative established in 2002 by the landowners, Sir Charles Burrell and Isabella Tree. Adopting a model for grazing ecology promoted by the Dutch ecologist Frans Vera, the Estate’s fields have been gradually taken out of arable farming production in favour of ‘a “process-led”, non-goal-orientated project where, as far as possible, nature takes the driving seat’ (knepp.co.uk). In place of traditional human-led systems of land use, free-roaming herbivores such as old English long-horn cattle, and Tamworth pigs, have been introduced to drive habitat change. This approach is now commonly referred to as ‘rewilding’.
This event aimed to explore this complex and dynamic site through a transdisciplinary collaboration on site at Knepp. Bringing together a disparate group of artists and academics the project involved a series of presentations, walks, workshops and discussions between sixteen participants, joined at various points by Burrell and Tree, along with Knepp’s Resident Ecologist, Penny Green. This event was intended as the starting point of an ongoing project led by Jamie Lorimer (Geography, University of Oxford)); David Overend (Drama, Theatre and Dance, Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL)); and Danielle Schreve (Quaternary Science, RHUL). We were joined by a group of theatre practitioners and scholars, human geographers, paleo-ecologists, conservationists, visual artists, and journalists. The project aims to combine specialist knowledge of Quaternary history (the last 2.6 million years), with a creative sensibility to possible futures in wildlife conservation, in order to inform the way that present publics engage with concepts of wildness and wilderness. More documentation from the event will appear on this site over the next few weeks and months.