Feral State is an interdisciplinary practise led by Laurel Gallagher. Co-creative projects explore the relationship between childhood, wildness and wellbeing through immersive experiences in disused urban spaces and academic evaluation.

Workshops, community events and research projects transform physical spaces, build a sense of community and love of nature.


Anywhere – and, it follows, nowhere – can be a place. As long as we are there, to think and talk, to listen and respond. Mark Kingwell

Feral State projects work with disadvantaged urban communities to reclaim public spaces for creativity, adventure and play. We co-create immersive placemaking experiences, digital narratives and public events that build connections between place, nature and community.

From 2016-2018 the Feral Spaces project delivered free activities for young people in Stoke on Trent to reduce anti-social behaviour, develop safe spaces and connect young people with nature. Projects received funding from the Arts Council, Big Lottery Fund, Canal and River Trust and Stoke on Trent City Council.

Following two years of action research in Stoke-on-Trent, in 2019 Laurel founded the not-for-profit company Urban Wilderness. Our mission is to reclaim disused green spaces through youth led placemaking for community wellbeing and cohesion. We work in partnership with community groups, environmental charities and schools to deliver youth engagement, community projects and public festivals.


Naturedeficit disorder is not a formal diagnosis, but a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years. Richard Louv

There is a growing body of evidence that children missing out on outdoor play is a cause for concern. Possible links between lack of outdoor play and rising levels of childhood obesity, increasing levels of screen time in children and a rise in mental health issues in children have led to a number of interventions from organisations such as the National Trust, Natural England and RSPB aiming to reconnect children with nature.

The Feral Spaces project investigated how children living in disadvantaged urban areas connect with nature and what impact it can have on their well being. Our research project Exploring wild spaces and wellbeing with young people undertaken in partnership with Derby University and the Canal and River Trust shares our findings.


The Feral State began in Laurel’s studio as she investigated the constraints of modern childhood and increasing disconnection from nature through a series of paintings depicting children following birds, escaping their urban lives and returning to the wild.

Laurel’s paintings reveal processes of transformation and metamorphosis, capturing states of flux between illustration and abstraction, chaos and control. Abstract layers of dripping paint inviting us to look through worlds of possibility and build our own reality.

Visit the wonderful Boki Seven Dials to view Laurel’s paintings and enjoy a coffee or cocktail. Contact Laurel to purchase or commission artwork.


Laurel has been working with young people in formal and informal education since 2003. She is founder and director of engagement of Urban Wilderness CIC, a not-for-profit company that works with young people to repurpose disused urban spaces for adventure, creativity and play. Currently studying an Urban Planning MSc, Laurel is interested in developing ‘child-led placemaking’ into a model for urban regeneration.

“For me it’s all about empowering young people. Feeling connected to the place you live, the nature around you and the communities you live in has a significant effect on young people’s health and wellbeing, especially in deprived urban areas.”

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