University of Nottingham
Mike Pearson leads workshop participants on a walk at Alkborough Flats. Photo: Iain Biggs. 

Performing Geographies 


Impact Fellowship's second workshop

This event brought together researchers from a number of projects funded by the Landscape and Environment programme with other interested academic parties, creative practitioners, and landscape managers. The workshop involved visits to a number of sites which feature in the 'soundwork' Warplands by Professor Mike Pearson (University of Aberystwyth) and composer John Hardy, commissioned as part of the Impact Fellowship.

The workshop allowed participants to engage with the conceptualisation of the performance piece and to input their own reactions to the North Lincolnshire landscape. More broadly the group considered the potential for the performative and site-specific dimensions of research to generate new engagements with landscape and to transform our perceptions and valuations of particular places.

Workshop questions

  • What different does a performative dimension make to researching landscape and environment?
  • Is performance helping us to engage in wider landscape issues effectively? (including those of the physical sciences - incorporating Living With Environmental Change - LWEC).
  • How does performance work with other perspectives on landscape and environment?
  • How does performance help with public value and engagement?
  • How does performance inform and shape narratives of landscape and environment?

Workshop itinerary

Day 1: Ousefleet

According to the Ordnance Survey Landranger map series (comprising 320,000 squares) a field in North Lincolnshire is the most featureless part of the UK. The square kilometre on the outskirts of the village of Ousefleet, near Scunthorpe, has nothing in it except a single electricity pylon and some overhanging cable (Grid reference SE830220 on map 112). On day one participants walked the edge of the 'emptiest' map square in Great Britain, discussing how we might bring interest to this 'empty', flat, agricultral landscape that is dominated by large skies and electricity pylons. Mike Pearson talked about the history of drainage in the area and the European project led by Vermuyden and which meant the end for the local way of life. Mike also explained the 'warping' process through which the land had been built up from river sediments during times when the river was allowed to flood.

Day 2: Alkborough

The second day was spent at Alkborough and began with a visit and walk around Julian's Bower. Julian's Bower is a unicursal turf maze, 43 feet (13 m) across, lying in a small depression on a small plateau close to the cliff edge at Alkborough. It may be of Roman or Medieval origin, the earliest firm documentary evidence dating from 1697 when it was noted by the Yorkshire antiquary Abraham de la Pryme.

We were then guided around Alkborough Flats by Environment Agency manager Innes Thompson. Alkborough Flats is the first coastal realignment site to be developed as part of the Humber Shoreline Management Plan and the UK’s largest managed realignment site. The site is managed to encourage biodiversity and the development of a variety of different habitats including inter-tidal mudflats, fresh and salt-water reed beds as well as wet and dry grassland. The new wetland habitat has dramatically changed the landscape in recent years.
The group talked about these landscapes and issues and also engaged with Mike's performance through readings and discussion of historic texts that reference the area.

Please see the workshop report for further details.
Russ and Louise interview Stephen Daniels and Sally Mackey


Event details

Date: 5-6th June 2011

Venue: North Lincolnshire

  • Stephen Daniels (Director of AHRC Landscape and Environment programme, University of Nottingham)
  • Charlotte Lloyd (Landscape and Environment programme)
  • Lucy Veale (Landscape and Environment programme)
  • Mike Pearson (University of Aberystwyth)
  • John Hardy (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
  • Iain Biggs (University of the West of England)
  • Phil Crang (Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • Graham Fairclough (English Heritage)
  • Dee Heddon (University of Glasgow)
  • Sally Mackey (Central School of Speech and Drama)
  • Angela Piccini (University of Bristol)
  • Nigel Stewart (Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts)
  • Innes Thomson (Environment Agency)
  • Rob Witcher (Durham University)
Participants represented the following Landscape and Environment projects: Carrlands, Warplands, On-the-go, Living in a material world, Re-enchantment and reclamation, and Tales of the frontier.




External links



Workshop videos

Discussion 1 (part 1) - Ousefleet reactions

Discussion 1 (part 2) - Ousefleet reactions

Mike introduces Warplands to the group and reports on his progress to date. Participants are asked about their reactions to the Ousefleet landscape with discussion focussing on the difference that different disciplinary perspectives made. John Hardy concludes the session with a limerick challenge!


Participant interviews

Workshop participants are interviewed in pairs at Julian's Bower and are asked to reflect on the value of performance as method, their experiences of 'Performing Geographies' and Warplands and their reaction to the Alkborough landscape.

Discussion 2 - Alkborough reactions

Mike leads a group discussion on reactions to the Alkborough Flats landscape and the information provided by the Environment Agency. He concludes by reading an extract from the draft script for Warplands.



Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071