Exploring Place: Along the Outskirts – Marc Atkinson and Ken Worpole

There are many ways to explore and document place, and we wanted to draw your attention to a project that captured ours from the United Kingdom. For a year the artist Marc Atkinson walked the surrounding edgeland of his home city of Peterborough. The result was a collection of photographs, films, catalogue and website that reveal the hybrid new landforms and erstwhile woodlands that can now be found encircling the rapidly expanded city. Along the Outskirts combines material that Marc gathered with interviews with local walkers, residents, itinerant travellers and edgeland workers.

From the project introduction:
“Peterborough like many English cities, has a complex relationship with its surrounding landscape. The project highlights the multiple uses and evolution of a terrain, that appears to be in constant transition. The outer edges reveal the alternative experiences and histories of our cities, whose identities are usually projected from touristic, fixed and centre based perspectives. Through reflection and recollection, our landscapes can still be easily read and reveal to us the traces of our past, the issues of the present and the possibilities of the future. 
It can be argued that there is an increased urgency in the current climate, to highlight these ‘uncharted’ areas, in order to consider the impact both positive and negative of town planning, housing developments, migration and increased geographic mobility on our landscape, heritage, wildlife and communities.”

A series of the photographs from the project are presented in the limited edition catalogue for Along the Outskirts alongside an essay from the celebrated writer Ken Worpole, who writes:

“Banishment, or self-withdrawal, to the margins of the city is a long-standing trope of English history, though it is found in many other cultures.  It is there in the fable of Robin Hood, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in a myriad of fairy stories, as well as in modern horror cinema. What may be different about the modern version of this trope is that where there was once a strict boundary between city and country – especially in the walled cities of medieval society – today that boundary is much more porous, giving rise to a deep anxiety or ambivalence over what can and can’t be allowed to happen in the urban edgelands, as they are now most commonly called.”
The catalogue is available from the project website, and a selection of the photographs and a 60 minute film are being shown as part of an exhibition being held at the City Gallery, Peterborough until the 28th August. To find out more about this fascinating project of place, head over to the project website here: Along the Outskirts.