About

Feral State is an interdisciplinary practise led by artist, educator and mother Laurel Gallagher. Collaborative projects explore the relationship between childhood, wildness and wellbeing through immersive experiences, co-creative processes and academic evaluation.

Artist led workshops, community events and research projects facilitate adventures transforming physical spaces, and building a sense of connection with wildness and community.

 

 

Placemaking

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

The Feral Spaces project works with disadvantaged urban communities to reclaim public spaces for creativity, adventure and play. We create immersive art experiences, digital narratives and public events that build connections between place, nature and community.

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

Feral Spaces short films, magazines and reports document the benefits of urban wild spaces on young peoples wellbeing.

 

 

Education

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.

Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it. Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood. Richard Louv

Children run riot, climbing crumbling factory walls, spraying paint, cutting down vegetation, defining spaces, manipulating materials and sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas.

“It’s like a children’s wonderland” exclaims a visitor from the YMCA in awe at the joy a disused ex-industrial wasteland provides for young people.

“I never knew this place was here” comments a teacher who has brought students from a local school to take part.

We are running a morning of activities for 20 children aged 8-14  at Burlsem Port, a disused section of canal transformed, through neglect, into a natural wilderness.

I started working in this space in 2016, following an artistic vision of children escaping their urban lives and returning to the wild.

The Feral Spaces project investigates the question: How can children in disadvantaged urban areas connect with wild spaces and what impact does it have on their sense of well being?

There is a growing body of evidence that children increasingly missing out on outdoor play is a cause for concern.

Fewer than a quarter of children regularly use their local patch of nature and less than one in ten children regularly play in wild spaces. Natural England.

The area around urban children’s homes where they are able to freely roam has decreased by 90% in the space of one generation. Gaster.

Possible links between lack of outdoor play and  rising levels of childhood obesity (Health survey for England 2008), increasing levels of screen time in children (Sigman, 2007) and a raise in mental health issues in children (Office of National Statistics, 2004) have led to a number of interventions, such as the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ ,  designed to reconnect children with nature.

The Feral Spaces project is currently building relationships with local schools. A research project in partnership with Derby University and  the Canal and River Trust is evaluating the impact of our activities on students well being. This research will be published in Autumn 2018 and will support the development of a Feral Spaces training program for schools interested in developing disused wild spaces into sites for well being.

 

Events

Feral Spaces invites you to follow the birds on an adventure trail through wild urban spaces. Scramble up a hillside, build a box fort, mix clay and mud and smear it on your cheeks, make new friends and record your adventures on camera. This is a wild play experience where your imagination is free to roam!

Parents are increasingly looking for activities to get their kids outdoors, in the fresh air and away from screens. A Feral Spaces event is a gateway experience for kids addicted to screen time to engage with a sense of real life adventure and search out more nature based or outdoors activities.

We love to discover new spaces and get kids adventuring where they live. Contact us to find out how we could bring something feral to your festival or event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting

Children escape their homes, discover wild places and in a feral state return

Laurel Gallagher‘s work  investigates processes of transformation and metamorphosis.  Her paintings, video and immersive art experiences explore states of flux between illustration and abstraction, chaos and control, capturing moments of change and imagination.


Portraits blending human and animal qualities question our sense of identity while birds become symbolic messengers reminding us to connect with the wild. Abstract layers of dripping paint create a space where we are free to explore our imagination and look through worlds of possibility.

22426472_10155211049092741_782429138453417378_o