Pairings with Nature – an update

By Sarah Males

The PAIRINGS residency programme, curated by Glossop Creates Director, Claire Tymon,was introduced last year to pair local artists with projects that are related to important and interesting community issues 

The artists are encouraged to use their creative skills and practice, while creating high quality, locally relevant work that opens doors to Glossop’s cultural heritage and provides alternative perceptions of the town by focusing on its assets from interesting angles.

Artist Sarah Males has been looking at local nature and the landscape as the topic for her project, drawing on the diverse and beautiful natural scenery around Glossop and the High Peak. Sarah’s work aims to connect people to nature, and studies how our relationship with the natural world affects our daily life, through activities associated with our personal and industrial food growing and consumption, recreational gardening, allotments, outdoor leisure and wellbeing. We will update on Sarah’s exciting project as it progresses. 

As part of the residency, Sarah visited Manor Park and the Hadfield and Padfield Heritage Trail to find inspiration. Here, Sarah reflects on her site visits with photography, research – and even poetry…


And, always, it starts with the water.

From Shelf Moss and Shelf Moor

Through cloughs, Crooked and Rose.

White, Ashton and Little,

To become Shelf Brook

Golden tinged with peat infused hues,

Breathing life into dwelling

Starting in the centre. Finding Manor Park. Looking for a place where people gather. Looking for life in all its forms. 

The park is a curated space, tended, cared for, cherished, enjoyed and a location bound with memories and stories of being. Layers of memory grow over time; generations play and grow to bring new life to visit again and again. Nature relentlessly reclaiming space wherever the opportunity arises. 

Shelf Brook runs through the park, flowing from the moorland above the town. Where there is water, there is life. Human, plant, and animal life along with the myriad of species that are part of this web. Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Hadfield, Padfield, Dinting Vale, Gamesley, Charlestown and Old Glossop are water borne and water bound.


A walk along the Hadfield & Padfield Heritage Trail – in search of biodiversity, past and present. 

The heritage Interpretation panel speaks of Bankbottom and Roughfields, an area of open land previously used for grazing, allotments, hen cotes and pigeon lofts. It refers to a time when “growing your own” was commonplace. Allotments provide a haven for diverse species and wildlife providing an important interface between people and nature. 

On the Longdendale Trail, evidence of recent mixed planting of native tree species. Hazel and hawthorn cling onto their autumn leaves. I’m not sure who planted these saplings, though I do know these species are very valuable in terms of the life they support.

Hawthorn and hazel support a wide range of species, including insects, birds and small mammals. They are smaller trees often featuring in hedgerows along with blackthorn, elder and rowan. Whilst our attention may be drawn to the larger, broadleaf species these trees contribute hugely to the biodiversity of our natural environment. 

Hawthorn is a foodplant for the caterpillars of moths, whose names bear witness to diversity and the creativity of language used in the naming of hawthorn, orchard ermine, pear leaf blister, rhomboid tortrix, light emerald, lackey, vapourer, fruitlet-mining tortrix, small eggar and lappet moths.

Hazel leaves also support caterpillars of moths, including the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. Hazelnuts are also eaten by woodpeckers, nuthatches, tits, wood pigeons, jays and small mammals. The trunks are often covered in mosses, liverworts and lichens, and the fiery milkcap fungus grows in the soil beneath.

In southern parts of the UK, in addition to a few other isolated pockets, these tree species support the dormouse, the charming creature to be found sleeping in the teapot at the Mad Hatters Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. We are unlikely to spot these rare creatures here, they are highly endangered though we can plant them with hope for the future.

With thanks to the Woodland Trust for species information.

All photos – Sarah Males

For further information on the Pairings scheme and the projects that have already been undertaken, check out the Nature project here and a spotlight on the town hall and textile heritage projects here