Macfarland's lecture on landscape and the human heart
Robert Macfarland - Unexpected Wilderness - Night Time
'Writing Wild Places - Wastelands To Wonderlands' Exhibition at the British Library, May - Sept 2012
This is a scrap book dedicated to the study of London's weeds and the wild places where they grow.
What is a Wildcorner?
A Wildcorner is a term referring to a gap that has been left to grow wild in the city. The term encompasses every wild piece of land no matter the size, from large disused sports grounds to small patches of commercial wasteland, to a crack in the pavement. As long as this gap in the man made landscape harbours some kind of weed, then it is considered a Wildcorner.
Wildcorners and Wildcorridors* are dotted all over the capitol and vary in content, depending on their location and history. One thing most have in common is that they are normally restricted in someway from public access or boarded off and hidden from public view altogether. In this blog we focus particularly on the Wildcorners of south east London.
* Wildcorridor; a word used to describe a channel or pathway made inside the metropolis that also facilities the propagation and growth of weeds. This includes railway sidings, wild rivers and canals.
Urban and Suburban Weeds
By the term 'weeds' we are of course referring to the cities wild plants and flowers. But their are also two other weeds that grow in the city.
'Graff' like its botanical relation, has many families and strains. Both of these weeds can often be found together, sharing many qualities including their adaptive nature and unregulated status. Both in many cases, originally entered and populated the city using the railway network.
London's third 'weed' is invisible and uses the tops of tower blocks to propagate. Pirate radio like its weed relatives, grows away from the public eye and is constantly adapting to exploit these same gaps across the cities FM radio spectrum, fighting and flourishing in-between the commercial stations.
The Lewisham Natureman is a legend thought to have its roots in South East London's local graffiti scene. He has never been seen and is only represented by a small carving, that can be found [normally hidden] in the wastelands, train sidings and rivers of the borough. This has given way to the belief that this character is not human at all but actually a spirit of the wild; an urban incarnation of the Green Man or Cernunnos; the stag lord.
He also takes the form of a small white deer that can be seen wandering the desolate places of Lewisham, grazing on wild vegetation and drinking from the boroughs three rivers. The creature is also known as the 'Wild Walker.'
He is the life-force of the cities cracks and gaps; breathing sun light over these forgotten places. He is a familiar to the weeds. This spirit both gives and receives energy from these wild elements, as well as from the graff [another weed] that forms in these same cracks and quietly pollenates the city. The LNM also transceives energy to and from the pirate radio signals [an invisible weed] which adapt to exploit gaps in-between the commercial stations in the cities airwaves.
The small carved tag has also been linked to another figure in local street folklore; Solomon Wild. Solomon is believed to be some kind of urban explorer / amateur scientist of London's wild cracks, he is thought to be conducting a ongoing study into The Lewisham Natureman legend. But some believe the two are in fact the same person and Solomon is the one leaving these tags, in an attempt to propagate the myth, keeping it alive and faking his own results. Another version describes Solomon as not a scientist but as a vagrant herbalist and shaman, who uses these places to rest and grown his herbs and food. The hidden tag is said to be a simple and discreet 'i was here' message to his friends and those who know where to look.
There are many legends on the underground.