Bradley Brook { 2 galleries }

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and are able to make a contribution to their community.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO), March 2018.

Bradley Brook explores the benefits of engaging with green spaces over time, examining the themes of interacting with nature, mental health and wellbeing, revisitation, and photography.

Society increasingly recognizes the value and importance of mental health. The maintenance of wellbeing should be considered in the same way we think of physical health and fitness, it takes time and effort, and everyone should be doing it. Research, has proven that there are positive benefits of exercising in natural environments, as opposed to urban environments1.

Bradley Brook is a stream flowing through Mere Clough, a deciduous woodland occupying a narrow valley in Phillips Park Nature reserve, Greater Manchester. The brook runs adjacent to the M60, one of the busiest motorways in Britain. Before cars and motorways “Mere Clough was renowned by botanists in the Victorian period for the variety and profusion of its flora.”2

The repetitive process of revisiting the same running route created an awareness of changes caused by seasonality, extreme weather events, and through human intervention and land management. It became a beneficially active process of anticipation and looking for change. This revisiting also created a sense of affiliation and responsibility with the location of the running route, that became stronger with each visit. Bradley Brook is a conscious decision to examine and explore the maintenance of my own wellbeing over a period of two and a half years, by recording the changes observed, while making time to observe at a slower pace along the running route.

The process of making the work, using analogue photography allows a more methodical and considered slow process. Unwrapping the foil of a roll of new film feels indulgent, eliciting the thrill of unwrapping sweets as a child. The mindfulness of hand printing in the darkroom is a mediative process. It’s all an antidote to the fast-paced digital world, and another conscious effort to maintain my own wellbeing.

Bradley Brook is the foundation of a collaborative pilot study into green prescribing with The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s My Place Scheme. Supported by the UKRI fund. That facilitates participants to engage with the green spaces of Phillips Park Nature Reserve through photography.

1.Wicks, C., Barton, J., Orbell, S., & Andrews, L. (2022).

2. Gremson, S., Pringle, I., Winterbottom, D. (2009). Philips Park: It’s History and development Version 6.

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