Edgeland (2020) 

Commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

As Manchester’s streets and skyline are warped by the ever-accelerating process of urban renewal, the city’s edgelands and green spaces are at risk of being swallowed by waves of property development. Not only does this raise questions about the ecology of the city, as carbon sinks are flattened and wildlife is displaced, but it speaks to broader trends pushing urban residents away from shared space, community and local identity.

This project shines a light on these spaces and the activists, academics, and local people who have taken up the daunting fight against corporate interests in the city in the name of biodiversity, urban ecology and community wellbeing. As we are faced with crises of both environment and mental health, the role of public green spaces has become ever more crucial in the eyes of those who enjoy, nurture, and maintain them.

As the tide of urban growth edges closer to the open boundaries of our shared spaces, the trees, wildlife and insects continue their gentle movement, unaware that these spaces are likely reaching the end of their rich lineage. If nothing else, this project documents these final days.

This work weaves together recorded conversations, composed music and field recordings from a handful of Manchester’s urban wildlife havens. Interviewees include community activists Julie Ryan and Tara Parry from ‘Friends of Ryebank Fields’, award-winning alternative tour guide Hayley Flynn (Skyliner) and Dr Jenna C. Ashton (artist, curator and lecturer at The University of Manchester).