Research Projects


Exploring Wild Spaces and Wellbeing Growing levels of childhood obesity, increasing amounts of screen time and rising reports of mental health issues in children and young people have become a cause for concern. Dr Jenny Hallam, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby, looks at the benefits of nature and outdoor play in tackling these problems.

Action research project produced by Laurel Gallagher with funding from the Canal and River Trust

2019 Nature Connections Conference Presentation

Connecting with nature the urban way


Feral Futures Exhibition showcasing the finds of ten child explorers who investigated, mapped and recorded a local area of disused, wild industrial space. Through play, discussion and experiment, the children found clues about how this space once emerged and came to an end, which non-human friends are using it now and what sort of future it might yet have.

Co-produced by Laurel Gallagher and Ben Anderson with funding from the Being Human Festival 2018

Stoking Curiosity 2018

BBC Radio 3 Why trespassing is the right way to go!


Adapt the Nothing The peripheralisation of ordinary groups of young people leaves Middleport with the impression of a monoculture of troubled and trouble making teens, but in reality, there are many more positive young people whose imprint cannot be felt in the public realm.

The ‘Planning the Future’ workshop was co-designed by Nicola Winstanley and Laurel Gallagher to introduce basic concepts of planning then support young people to create a campaign of tactical urbanism that led to unexpected results.

Publication documenting workshops, experiences and groups associated with Middleport, produced by Nicola Winstanley with funding from the Arts Council.

Forest Worlds Festival 2019

The Forest Worlds Festival was produced by Urban Wilderness as a public event and an action research study in collaboration with academic research partner Dr Jenny Hallam. The project evaluated the impact of working co-creatively for the commissioned artist David Bethell and a group of local school children.

“Their excitement in seeing their work exhibited and pride in hearing the artist speak about how the young people had co-created the piece was evident. Returning to the park helped the young people develop a new relationship with it and hopefully laid the foundations for a longer-term connection between them and the space. The boys also commented that they hoped that the sculpture would help inspire other children at the school to try art.”

Using Art to reconnect children to nature

Forest Worlds Festival Report

Urban Wilderness is a not for profit company funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and Arts Council.