Laurel Gallagher established the concept of the Feral State through her practice as a visual artist. Paintings depicting children escaping their urban lives and returning to the wild led to her research question ‘What is the relationship between urban children and wild spaces?’ Laurel has been working with young people in formal and informal education since 2003, has a PGCE and PGDip in Art and Design Education and was awarded a Practice Research Fellowship at Leeds University for her work with CUSP. In 2018 Laurel became co-director of Urban Wilderness CIC, a not-for-profit company that empowers young people to discover belonging, adventure, and creativity in urban green spaces. Currently studying an Urban Planning MSc, Laurel specialises in developing models of co-production in urban regeneration.
Dr Jenny Hallam works as a senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby. Jenny has a long standing research interest in the arts and exploring the ways in which the co production of artwork shapes children’s understanding and experiences of the visual arts. Initially, her focus centred on using ethnographic methods to investigate the ways in which art is taught in primary schools. More recently, Jenny’s research has been informed by a community psychology approach and she works closely with Urban Wilderness as part of a research partnership. This on going research collaboration seeks to explore the ways in which nature and the arts are incorporated into community projects for children and young people which are designed to support wellbeing and tackle social inequality.