Creative research exploring the politics of immigration and the environment through planting

Funded by the Brigstow Institute, this initiative worked collaboratively with relevant communities, gardeners and artists (Charli Clark and Paul Hurley) to explore issues around immigration. Two plots were designed and developed in Royal Fort Gardens, University of Bristol on land adjacent to the Ivy Gate – work began in Spring 2021.  

The team co–designed two hospitable spaces with and for migratory humans and nonhumans. The two plots were thematically connected by themes of north/south and coming/going. They sought to reflect the human experiences and cultures of global migration but were also designed to be welcoming and appropriate to the needs of other species’ migration.

The site is now a living laboratory, a space for new conversations and thinking around the politics of immigration and the environment. Each plot has a structure at its heart: the Hearth is modelled on shelters in the Calais ‘jungle’ and is a space for groups to meet and debate; the Hide welcomes two people to sit quietly and observe insect life. Visitors to the both are invited to think about and debate questions of environmental and migration policies asking, among other things: 

  • What do we need to create spaces hospitable to migrations of humans and nonhumans? 
  • How might ecological thinking enable the cultivation of understanding about migration and the challenges of hostile environments?  
  • How is the language of invasive others mobilised in debates over both biodiversity and migration? 
  • How do we negotiate the politics of environmentalism and the politics of migration? 
  • What would a more level ground look like, feel like, and who would maintain it? 

To explore these and other questions we will be holding a series of fireside chats co-organised with the Brigstow Institute. Watch this space!

Research/Design Team:

For further details please see the de(Bordering) website.


The plots are both located beside the paved area behind Royal Fort House. The Hearth is here and the Hide is here.


(de)Bordering the human and non-human worlds‘ by Bridget Anderson.

Creating hospitable environments – growth on the (de)Bordering plots‘ by Paul Hurley and Charli Clark.


Building the Hearth by Emily Jones, Mivi Studman-Badillo and Carly Pearce.

This project is associated with the MMB Challenge on Bodies, things, capital