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Exploring Wellness through Art and Ecology: A Journey with Hazlehurst Studios and MGET

Hazlehurst Studios recently partnered with Mersey Environmental Gateway Trust (MGET) to develop a new series of wellbeing walks. These walks aimed to explore techniques for enhancing wellbeing, ecology, and visual art, reconnecting residents with their local green spaces. Spike Island, nestled between the Mersey River and Sankey Canal, served as the backdrop for the inaugural pilot walks.


First Session: Saturday 17th February

Led by Hazlehurst photographer Lauren Quayle and MGET representatives Andrea Dewitt and Stephanie Harrison, the first session introduced a fresh approach to exploring the area. Lauren delved into photography fundamentals, enabling participants to immerse themselves in the landscape, observing how light and textures intertwine. Along the canal, discussions blossomed around emerging flora and fauna, with Andrea and Stephanie highlighting early signs of spring.

The session culminated at the "Future Flower" sculpture, overlooking the river, where its unique soundscape added another layer of depth to the experience. This pilot session provided invaluable insights, guiding the development of subsequent sessions by incorporating participant and practitioner feedback.


Tips: Download the iNaturalist app (https://www.inaturalist.org/) and the Merlin app (https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/) to help identify flora and fauna on your walks.


Second Session: Sunday 25th February

The following week, incorporating feedback from the first session and adjusting the walk's route, Hazlehurst resident artist Mima Cornish led the group. Inspired by the William Blake quote: 'This life's dim windows of the soul Distorts the heavens from pole to pole And leads you to believe a lie When you see with, not through, the eye,' Mima introduced basic mindful techniques at key points during the walk. Her sessions grounded us, allowing participants to focus on the topics discussed in the previous session, but this time, connecting without technology. Despite being surrounded by urban sounds, from cars to aeroplanes, the experience proved to be mindful, guiding participants to cancel out unwanted noise and focus on the natural sounds of the river and birds.


After returning to the present moment, Stephanie and Andrea fielded questions related to the estuary, while others took photos or used binoculars.

At the session's end, Hazlehurst resident artist Rachael Prime facilitated various mark-making techniques using simple materials.

Introducing such a combination of photography, ecology, walking, art, and mindfulness carried potential risks, as participants' reactions were uncertain. However, they generously embraced all activities.


While the participants appreciated the experience, it also profoundly impacted the involved artists, fostering mindfulness and a deeper appreciation for wellbeing in their work. As passionate advocates for our local area, we're inspired by the initiatives undertaken by Mersey Gateway Environmental Trust to improve the surrounding green spaces in Halton.


If projects like this interest you, please let us know! We believe we've only scratched the surface in exploring the profound connection between nature, creativity, and ecology.


Additionally, we luckily had Lauren Quayle to document the second session, allowing us to have a beautiful visual record of the session.

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