Visual Artist Hannah Imlach is currently undertaking PhD research and fieldwork at RSPB Scotland’s Loch Lomond reserve. In this blog she discusses her creative process and fieldwork so far.

Close Encounters at Loch Lomond: Part 2

This blog post will be followed by subsequent updates as I progress with my research and create artworks inspired by the ecology and conservation of Loch Lomond. Within post I’ll introduce my creative process and my fieldwork so far.

My Creative Process

My creative process is research-led and developed through details sketchbooks where I gather environmental observations, scientific and archival research, drawing, photography and maquettes. These sketchbooks have become an integral part of my process as a research record linking diverse research strands, and as a communicative tool helping to exchange ideas across disciplines. From the sketchbooks I distil the environmental research material into a set of sculptural possibilities that I then develop into sculptural artworks. These pieces are often kinetic, designed to interacted directly with their environment and a viewer/participant. I make them using both traditional and contemporary sculpture-making processes from woodwork, glass blowing and paper folding to 3D modelling and chemical etching.


Hannah’s Flow Country sketchbooks, the result of her residency with the Peatlands Partnership in 2017-18
Video Credit: Hannah Imlach

Fieldwork So Far

In the last few months I have walked the reserve and participated in conservation activities including a goose survey at dawn and a dusk survey in the Fenland. I have been struck by the passionate and skilful observation work of my new RSPB colleagues and the reserve volunteers who, for example, are able to identify numbers and breeds of geese flying overhead in their thousands! These early morning and late night encounters with the more-than-human inhabitants of Loch Lomond strike me as descriptive of both the labour and joy of conservation.

In the University I have begun to research academic literature on conservation, compiling my thoughts in a ‘Glossary of Conservation Concepts’. This writing sits alongside sketchbook work, recording my experiences on the reserve and historical information on Loch Lomond’s distinct habitats and species.

Looking forward, I am keen to develop my understanding of the reserve within the wider context of the National Park and historically, as a site researched by generations of field naturalists. I am also interested to learn more about the complex decision-making processes within the RSPB. I would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in my research, to discuss the habitats and species of Loch Lomond, innovative forms of engagement and interpretation or the connections between art and conservation.

person looks through binoculars at sunset

birds in flight through sky with tree in foreground
Photography from Hannah’s initial fieldwork on the Loch Lomond reserve Luke Wake during a dusk survey in the fenland and a dawn goose survey.
Image credit: Hannah Imlach

Read Part 1 here



Twitter: @hannahimlach

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