Edgelands: The Unofficial Countryside & The Wild Enclosed
With the support of Manchester Independents, Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan have made two new short films the 'edgeland' landscapes close to their studio in Manchester. Through a hybrid documentary format, the artists have captured the intrinsic characteristics of these places, where nature exists in close proximity to the urban and suburban. Taken together, the two films create a correspondence between the past and present, forming contrasts and connections between distinctive locations on the fringes of the city, which have become a vital habitat and refuge for wildlife and people.
The Unofficial Countryside (18.58 mins., HD Video, 2021) Trailer:
Titled after naturalist Richard Mabey’s seminal book on edgeland landscapes, The Unofficial Countryside is an observational portrait of people and place, filmed in a patchwork of urban 'wildscapes' that include unkempt woodland, ramshackle smallholdings, abandoned industrial sites, utility substations, scrapyards, open fields and informal riverside beaches. The film includes a voiceover drawn from Marion Shoard’s key essay ‘Edgelands of Promise’ and captures the rich biodiversity of native and introduced species, in a landscape shaped by the activities and imprints of people passing through.
The Wild Enclosed (3.20 mins., HD Video, 2021) Trailer:
The Wild Enclosed is a film made within a former mediaeval deer park, on the outer rim of Manchester's metropolitan city region. Featuring ancient oaks and an abandoned outbuilding (‘The Slaughterhouse’), the film dwells on our complex and changing relationship with the land. Featuring a lyrical 18th century folk ballad, ruminating on the loss of the ‘Commons’, the film weaves together historic social issues of public access to land, enclosure and the managed preservation of an idyllic, wild woodland estate.
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose
The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine
The poor and wretched don't escape
If they conspire the law to break
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to keep them poor
They hang the man and hang the woman
Who steal the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Until they go and steal it back
[Seventeenth century protest ballad against English enclosures]