Art events set to shine light on 'true wilderness'

Sara Hayes standing on Northey Island
Sara Hayes says people will be urged to think "critically" about the impacts of climate change on Northey Island [National Trust]

A remote saltmarsh vulnerable to rising sea levels is set to have its struggles made the subject of a series of art events.

Northey Island, which sits in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, has been at the forefront of coastal adaptation over the past 30 years.

The National Trust said unique habitats on the "precious landscape" would be highlighted via art, walks and workshops.

Sara Hayes, who is leading the project, said people would be urged to think "critically" about the impacts of climate change.

Birds on the saltmarsh
Northey Island is one of the few places in the UK where dark-bellied geese can be found [National Trust/Justin Minns]

Ms Hayes, of The Public Art Company, said the series of events would run from May until July.

“I’m really excited to be working on this project at Northey Island, exploring the local area’s history and industry and how the man-made interventions of coastal realignment have affected its lifespan,” she said.

'True wilderness'

In the last four years, the trust has been undertaking the biggest habitat creation project in the island’s history, to help the area better withstand climate impacts.

A 40-metre (131ft) section of embankment was lowered and a further 200-metre (656ft) section removed to allow the sea to flood an area in the east of the island.

Daniel Leggett, coastal project manager for the National Trust said at the time that the island was "really feeling the effects of climate impacts".

"The projected rate of habitat loss for the next 100 years would be very dramatic indeed, with nearly all of the saltmarsh predicted to be lost.

"And the whole island and estuary would be much worse off for it," he said.

A permanent piece of art will be installed on the island next summer to raise further awareness, the National Trust added.

Project manager Neda Asadfalsafizadeh said: “Northey Island is perhaps the closest you’ll get to true wilderness in Essex.

"It’s both historically and ecologically significant, and we’re really looking forward to seeing more people visit and engage with the space."

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