GRAIN Projects, worked in partnership with Forestry England, on  a new Photographer In Residence opportunity at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. This residency took place from July to October 2023 and was awarded to artist, writer and curator Louise Beer following a national open call.

Cannock Chase Forest (CCF) is a unique space that sprawls over 2,684 hectares, embracing a mosaic of coniferous and broadleaf woodlands along with expansive open spaces in Staffordshire, nestled within the West Midlands.  Its features include ancient geology as well as post industrial interventions, forest and moorland.

Cannock Chase is mainland England’s smallest AONB. Most of the forest is freehold as part of the public forest estate and is designated as Open Access land. Much of the woodland in the west and north eastern corner of the plan area is leased to Forestry England. The area lies within the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the majority of Forestry England land is made up of conifers planted for timber production. There are also areas of ancient woodland, wetland, wood pasture and open heathland within the forest.

Louise is an artist and curator, born in Aotearoa New Zealand. She now works between London, Margate and Aotearoa. Louise uses installation, moving image, photography, writing, participatory works and sound to explore humanity’s evolving understanding of Earth’s environments and the cosmos. Her experience of living under two types of night sky, the first in low level light polluted areas in Aotearoa, and the second in towns and cities in England with higher levels of light pollution, has deeply informed her practice. She explores how living under dark skies, or light polluted skies, can change our perception of grief, the climate crisis and Earth’s deep time history and future.

Recent awards, residencies and commissions include Delfina x Gaia Art Foundation Science Technology Society UK Associateship (2020), Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Grant (2021), North York Moors Dark Skies Residency with solo exhibition (2021), Amant Siena Residency (2021), CreaTures Art/Tech/Nature/Culture Residency (2021), Art + Air Exhibition Commission (2022), the Jean Harrison Commission (2022), Photo Fringe 2022 OPEN Eco (2022), Vera C. Rubin Observatory Kickstarter Grant with the University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory, Aotearoa New Zealand (2022), Derby Cathedral and FORMAT23 Photography Festival (2023). Earlier this year, Louise was awarded her second Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice grant.

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