New Perspectives – Saira’s Portrait of the South Downs National Park

  • Contributor information: CNP

Pearl Bates

Our latest New Perspectives Bursary project comes from Saira Niazi, as she explores hidden gems and shares stories from the South Downs National Park.

Whilst working on the project, Saira was granted funding from the South Downs National Park to lead on a separate project that sought to engage people from urban areas by opening the South Downs to them through a series of Community Wanderings projects. As part of the project, Saira designed and delivered four wandering tours in different parts of South Downs. The tours aimed to give people who hadn’t visited the National Park a chance to explore its hidden gems, to form their own connection to the landscape and to create new friendships.

The project culminated in a series of portraits and a short film about artist Pearl Bates made by film-maker Luke Baker; all can be explored on Saira’s website – Portrait of the South Downs National Park.

Watch Saira’s film here.

The inspiration behind Portrait of the South Downs National Park

“I’ve always loved exploring hidden gems and unearthing the stories that surround them. My creative practice combines photography and writing – I felt ‘Portrait of the South Downs’ would be an ideal project to allow me to do the things I most enjoy; explore hidden gems, connect with others and tell stories.”

The power of connecting with Protected Landscapes

Siara’s project beautifully highlights the unique human connection to nature. Everyone has a story to tell and taking time to listen and share can be so valuable and enriching.

Saira says: “Much of my work centres around connecting people and places through story. I felt the New Perspectives bursary would enable me to do this in the context of a landscape I enjoy and feel strongly about.”

National Parks can do amazing things for people’s health and wellbeing. Millions of people visit these amazing places every year to fulfil their need for solace, rejuvenation, and connection with nature. Everyone should have the right to experience these benefits.

Find out more about the New Perspectives Bursary scheme, which gives a platform to those voices less heard in our National Parks here.