Shot of the landscape: Visual arts project will put Black Country conservation in the frame

Wednesday 25th May 2011

Black CountryBlack Country View. Photo credit: Neil Wyatt

Landscape photographer Mike McFarlane cycled into the Black Country last week as part of a unique conservation-inspired visual arts project, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts. Using mainly public transport and a bicycle, Mike will cover thousands of miles during a 12 month tour of the UK, setting off from his home in County Durham on Tuesday 12 April. He will travel from the Isles of Scilly up to the highlands of Scotland by May 2012.

This project will see the creation of stunning 360° interactive colour images of landscape-scale conservation schemes in the Black Country. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country believes the images will inspire local residents about the natural world whilst illustrating the variety, scope and importance of its vision for A Living Landscape.
Through the development of Living Landscape schemes, the once traditional focus of conservation has been broadened: from protecting individual nature reserves to considering the landscape as a whole. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country’s Black Country Living Landscape project forms the basis of these schemes.
By visiting Birmingham and the Black Country Wildlife Trust’s landscape-scale conservation schemes Mike McFarlane will capture stunning colour images and create high resolution panoramas and virtual reality ‘tours’.
On completion of the UK tour Mike McFarlane will produce a complete set of 360° photographs for the scheme. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country will use the visual materials in its environmental education centres in Moxley and Winson Green, at events and on its website.
Julia Morris, Black Country Living Landscape Team Leader, Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country said: “We believe this project will help illustrate how closely nature ties in with the way we live our lives. Over the next 12 months, Mike will cycle thousands of miles highlighting the importance of wildlife moving freely through our countryside; something it needs to be able to do if it’s to adapt to climate change. We are pleased that he was able to visit sites such as Bumble Hole in Dudley and Moorcroft Wood in Walsall and see our Living Landscape for himself.”
North-East based Mike McFarlane is a landscape photographer, specialising in landscape, architectural and 360° virtual reality tour photography. Through his use of public transport and bike, Mike’s carbon footprint will be substantially less than driving the route by car and taking more flights. Mike said:
“When I left my job as an engineer to pursue a career as a landscape photographer I very much wanted my business to be ethical and environmentally-friendly and, not only entertain people, but to educate and inspire. I’m excited to see how the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country schemes are capturing the imagination of local communities, bringing people together for long-lasting positive change.
“Ultimately, I want to be able to show people we have achingly beautiful places here in the Black Country, worth protecting for the next generation and beyond. What better way to achieve that aim than helping to raise awareness of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country’s vision for A Living Landscape.”