Soft Estate

by Edward Chell

Dimensions: 177 x 250 mm  
Format: Hardback
Pages: 152; illustrated in colour throughout
Publisher: The Bluecoat
Contributors: Edward Chell, Bryan Biggs, Sara-Jayne Parsons, Richard Mabey
Language: English
Place of publication: Liverpool
Date of publication: 2013

Soft Estate


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£2.85 each


Soft Estate, the title of which derives from the Highways Agency term used to describe the natural habitats that have evolved along motorways and trunk roads, looks at how these borders offer a refuge for wildlife and a modern form of wilderness in the midst of intense urbanisation and agro-chemical farming.

Artist and academic Edward Chell, a participant in the Swedenborg Society's 2010 bicentenary exhibition, Fourteen Interventions, investigates these contemporary motorway landscapes, linking them to 18th-century ideas of the Picturesque and exploring the interface between history, ecology, roads and travel through a series of new works including 60 silhouette paintings of motorway plant life.

Soft Estate, based on the 2013 exhibition of the same name at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, features a number of the photographs and paintings shown in the exhibition, as well as essays by the artist, the Bluecoat’s curator and the writer and broadcaster Richard Mabey.

Chell said: “While 18th-Century tourists travelled to areas such as the Lake District to capture images of wild places, in today’s countryside, uncontrolled wilderness only springs up in the margins of our transport networks and the semi-derelict grid plans of industrialised corridors. These soft estates invite a new kind of tourist, new ways of looking and new forms of visual representation.”

The Bluecoat’s Exhibitions Curator Sara-Jayne Parsons said: “When Edward approached us with the idea for a show we saw the opportunity to make a bigger exhibition to encompass his solo project but also to include the work of a selection of artists working in similar territory. In this way Edward’s work acts as a critical centre for a wider discussion about space, place, memory and identity in our contemporary landscape.”


Foreword, by Bryan Biggs
In the Rear View Mirror, by Sara-Jayne Parsons
Soft Estate, by Edward Chell
Hidden Dips, by Richard Mabey
+ 100 colour illustrations