Common Lands: Reading List

A recommended reading list from the A&H team that highlights points of research for our new national programme: Common Lands.

You can purchase copies of all recommended books via A&H’s Reading List on is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.

Histories of land rights and boundaries:
The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us, Nick Hayes
Who Owns England?: How We Lost Our Land and How to Take It Back, Guy Shrubsole

Life writing and personal reclamation of landscapes and gardens:
A Flat Place, Noreen Masud
The Salt Path, Raynor Winn
I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain, Anita Sethi
Uprooting: From the Caribbean to the Countryside – Finding Home in an English Country Garden, Marchelle Farrell

Chronic illness, disability and access to nature:
Moving Mountains: Writing Nature through Illness and Disability, Edited by Louise Kenward, including Barbellion Prize-shortlisted writer Khairani Barokka and Kerri Andrews, author of Wanderers: A History of Women Walking
Some of Us Just Fall – On Nature and Not Getting Better, Polly Atkin

Colonial British Pasts and Welsh futures:
Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections, Corrinne Fowler
Welsh (Plural): Essays on the Future of Wales, Darren Chetty, Grug Muse, Hanan Issa, Iestyn Tyne

Ecosystems and Climate Crisis:
The Lost Rainforests of Britain, Guy Shrubsole
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
Fieldwork for Future Ecologies, Edited by Bridget Crone, Sam Nightingale, Polly Stanton
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, Edited by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, Nils Bubandt

Looking ahead to 2024:
Gathering, Edited by Durre Shahwar & and Nasia Sarwar-Skuse. Anthology of nature writing by women of colour to be published by 404 Ink. Contributors include filmmaker Kandace Siobhan Walker; Edwin Morgan Poetry Award-winner Alycia Pirmohamed; Burnt Roti founder Sharan Dhaliwal; and Nadia Javed, a member of band The Tuts.

Common Lands is a new programme approach for Arts&Heritage, driven through a themed national programme. 

For 15 years, A&H has worked across the UK to forge connections between artists, communities and historic sites and museums. Throughout our existence, we have supported heritage sites and museums to emotionally engage existing visitors and new communities in their varied untold or marginalised narratives by working with artists to creatively explore collections and sites, whilst centering a diverse range of perspectives.

Recent much appreciated Transition funding from Arts Council England has helped us complete vibrant collaborative projects connecting parks and proto-museums (Vanley Burke, Gary Stewart, Friends of Handsworth Park & Museum X); historic archives and theatres (Liz Gre and the Royal Shakespeare Company) and verdant heritage sites (Luke Fowler at YHA Ilam Hall with NT Ilam Park) as the last projects of our Meeting Point programme. It has also  allowed us time to reflect on our past achievements, spend time identifying what is now needed from an arts organisation, and freed us up to imagine potential new futures.  

Emerging from this time of consolidation and planning is an exciting new approach; our first thematically driven national programme: Common Lands. This is the working title for our two year programme for 2023-25. Retaining the best of our collaborative learning approach and continuing to forge new partnerships between communities, heritage organisations and artists, Common Lands will use as its inspiration the stories of people, place and collective action, inspired by histories of access to land, land ownership and the duty of care for nature. 

Recently we have expanded our definition of heritage to include organisations that hold intangible cultural heritage or have responsibility for the safeguarding of environmental heritage. Common Lands will focus on these aspects of our heritage and crucially will pivot to create projects that are driven by a broad range of communities, that increase opportunities for sharing knowledge and perspectives and promote the learning of new skills. It will embed care and foreground co-created projects nationally that create small positive tangible incremental change.