University of Nottingham

Re-enchantment and reclamation (network)

Project outline

This network explored the potential of methods in dance, film, and the sonic arts for transforming perceptions of place, in particular the landscape of Morecambe Bay and the Lune Estuary. Through four workshops and a series of public lectures and seminars with artists and philosophers of international distinction, attention was paid to the aesthetic and cultural significance of aquatic, terrestrial and aerial phenomena of sea, tides, rivers, shoreline, estuary, bay, weather and light. The project was set in a context of widespread concern about our current relationship with the natural environment. This network sought to reaffirm, strengthen and enhance the love of place of the Morecambe Bay area through artistic artefacts and events.

Morecambe Bay MorecambeBay_466


The research made a positive contribution to the changing perceptions and understandings of the area's different communities and interest groups, and more broadly demonstrated the capacity of the arts to contribute to wide societal debates about the relationship between human beings and the natural world, and how both live and recorded arts are shaped by an environment and reciprocally shape perceptions of that environment. Above all, the research developed new artistic methods in dance, film and sound for re-enchanting landscapes and environments.

The network's exploration of the unique historical, cultural and environmental features of the Morecambe Bay area and its specific identity have gone some way towards counterbalancing the prominence of its neighbour the Lake District. Responses took a remarkably varied number of forms: dance improvisations, recorded walks, discussions of printed works, and sound recordings, all involving dancers, film makers, sound artists and other arts professionals, academics, conservationists, fishermen and cross bay guides, primary school children, and many others. Research papers, lecture abstracts and reports on workshop activities and processes are freely available to download from the project website, alongside audio files, video clips and photographs of work in the field.


Ongoing influence

The practical and theoretical knowledge generated by the programme has informed the academic work or artistic practice of many who participated in the four workshops and lecture series. Publications by Rose (2007) and Stewart (2010a, 2010b) emerged directly from the programme. However, subsequent artistic projects have demonstrated the impact of the project in non-academic contexts by engaging further with the communities, interest groups and stakeholders directly concerned with the future direction of Morecambe Bay, including policy makers in the arenas of planning, tourism and cultural development.

Three arts projects in particular were undertaken by practitioners who were introduced to one another, and who developed skills, through the workshop series. Still Life(2008; rev. 2009) was a walking performance by landscape performance maker Louise Ann Wilson, one of the speakers in the lecture series, and Principal Investigator Nigel Stewart. It explored the attempts we make through both art and science to frame the natural world, and also how those attempts are disturbed by forces of nature beyond the frame.

This led to a larger coastal performance work by Stewart and Wilson, the ACE-funded Jack Scout (2010) which utilised some of the techniques and contacts made through Re-enchantment and Reclamation to work with many local experts and stakeholders, including the RSPB, AONB and National Trust. Music, dance, voice and art combined to evoke land, sands, skies and sea of Jack Scout, a heath in Silverdale overlooking the vast sands and tides of Morecambe Bay. Woven into these impressions was the story of the Matchless, a pleasure boat shipwrecked of the coast of Silverdale in 1895.

In Taking Time (2009) co-investigator Neil Boynton and film maker Chris Welsby raised awareness of global change through the creation of a series of installations controlled by environmental data, bringing together real-time projections from a number of sites around the world in the same physical space. 

Project web page:


  1. Water Log: Dancing in-between the Wet and Dry with Jennifer Monson.
  2. Natural Interventions: Technology and Representation with Chris Welsby
  3. Ecologies of Narrative: Memories of Water with Graeme Miller.
  4. Sounding Environment: Listening to Land with Ambrose Field.
Reenchantment and reclamation website


Award details

Duration: October 2006 - September 2008 (24 months) 

Principal Investigator:
Mr Nigel Stewart

Carl Lavery with Neil Boynton and Emma Rose

Higher Education Institution:
Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University

Selected publications

Stewart, N. (2010). Dancing the Face of Place: Environmental dance and eco-phenomenology. Performance Research. 15(4):32-29. Special issue on 'Fieldworks'. Available online.

Stewart, N. (2010a). The Weathering Body: Composition and Decomposition in Environmental Dance and Site-Specific Live Art, in Lesley Anne Sayers (ed.) The Dynamic Body in Space: Developing Rudolf Laban's Ideas for the 21st Century, London: Dance Books, pp. 217‒228.

Rose, E. (2007). Re-enchantment and Reclamation. Zivot umjetnosti (Croatian magazine for contemporary arts). Special Issue on the theme of Regions and Regionalism.


Landscape and Environment Programme

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

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071