The Green Backyard is a growing community located in the centre of Peterborough. Focusing on creating a place that is open to anyone and everyone, The Green Backyard aims to educate and encourage sustainable living and help raise awareness of current environmental issues.
Visual artist Jessie Brennan has been documenting The Green Backyard for the past year through an old photographic process called cyanotypes and sound recordings. The recordings are truths of the people who belong to the vibrant community and are part of the ever-growing project.
Cyanotypes are a simple yet rewarding photographic process that relies completely on the sun. It involves painting a photographic piece of paper with two chemicals: ammonium iron(III) citrate and potassium ferricyanide, placing objects on top and then exposing it to the sun for a length of time. Choosing and arranging your objects must be done away from sunlight as the photograph will start to develop the minute it’s outside, so Jessie created a community dark room using a shed that was already at the backyard in order to create these beautiful images.
From the sound recordings came a phrase that stuck with many people – ‘If this were to be lost’. It’s easy to believe in this day and age that green, environmental places could be gone with the decision of the council, and The Green Backyard is no exception. People have grown and come together because of this space and if were to be lost, a large community would be effected. People were touched by this phrase so much it has become a temporary installation at the backyard itself.
The cyanotypes were exhibited at the Peterborough City Gallery and Museum, presenting those that have been created on site using materials found at the backyard, along with an hour of the gathered sound recordings. There are a few more dates left where you can make your own Cyanotypes with Jessie on her free workshop – click here for more information.
The Green Backyard have regular open days free for volunteers to turn up, get stuck in and help make a difference to our environment. Having visited the backyard only a couple of times, I have no doubt that I will be returning. The welcoming vibe that radiates from the space and the people who volunteer there is wonderful and something that we certainly need more of. If you want to get involved, I encourage you to do so!
If you would like any more information on the above, please do let me know and I will try my best to answer your questions or I will point you in the direction of the people who can.
– Here’s my favourite cyanotype of the workshop I attended – totally inspired (copied!) by Sarah Page.