Our Big Green is a project devised by artist Ocean Farini as part of her Real Estate residency. It was a response to being told that there was no local green space and people needing somewhere out of their own street to explore. Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve is actually only a 10 minute walk from Flakefleet but is accessed through a complicated swing bridge that only opens at low tide, has no facilities when you get there and is mainly used by people walking dogs even though it is a Biological Heritage Site because of the plants that grow there and the birds they attract.

Over the course of 16 weeks Ocean met with a group of locals, recruited through her voluntary work at local charities and food banks, outside the local MacDonalds and walked down with them to the space to walk, create and explore.

“…I start to realise how much better and different it is to get people out in the wild-ness of the world than to sit with a sketch book in a room,

the space is beautiful and quiet and ever changing,

the people who are part of the group find the space totally peaceful and now important to them, when once they had never even known it existed in their town…”

From all the work created in these 16 weeks, Ocean produced a book for the group members, to celebrate the work, but also to send with a letter to people who hold power over the space to campaign for better facilities that would enable local people to use it more.

“… I find it funny that no one ever seems too bothered about seeing what they’ve made at the end of the session or what the photographs end up looking like

they like comin up and just being part of it…”

“…It runs for 16 weeks in all weathers

i decide to make a yellow bound book of images and text to give to the guys who are part of it, they can celebrate what they’ve made in their own quiet way and I can use it to show the council the importance of people using these spaces to breathe and make

but we need some bloody toilets alright?

 I hope this can be the legacy and sustainability of the OUR BIG GREEN group

even when I’m not living up here anymore…”

Our Big Green

our big green
quiet, open, green, blue, yellow space at the edge of town
scoping this place out with cameras, pencils, clay, stones
don’t get ink on ya new white trainers

battling with the elements
breathing in the air
long way round, short way back;
workin out the swing bridge timetable like it’s some kind of code to be broken

unpredictable but staying familiar
clouds, mud, ambushed by dogs
no visit feels like the last

these non-spaces
mad-max like, luna landscapes
reeds rattling and ducks hatching
skies moving and grass flowing
with all their wildness and emptiness
they’re well important to us

give us a chance to breathe a bit more and walk a bit more
give us an excuse to chat about stuff and let stuff go too
give us the space to process, experiment and try new stuff out together

we’re trying to use em more
see them in a different way
see the value and impact they can have on us
you know, nothin major

so, you coming along next Tuesday?

You can see the book here

Images from the book and lines from the poetry were installed at Affinity shopping village in March 2020, a site just in front of the nature reserve. Affinity also agreed to open gates from the shopping site to make the nature reserve easier to access and so that people could use their facilities.