What if you just leave it?  Rewilding Unwrapped 

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Community News

The UK’s first photography exhibition exploring the concept of rewilding is being launched this month at Bournemouth University’s Atrium Gallery.  

Rewilding is taking the UK by storm.  The 2019 bestselling book ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree has raised public awareness of the idea, as has a storyline on the Archers.  Sir David Attenborough is a supporter of rewilding and even Ed Sheeran says that he plans to rewild as much of the UK as he can!    

Despite the publicity and soundbites, many people are not sure about what rewilding really means, and this exhibition by Dorset photographer and nature conservationist Dr Sam Rose intends to ‘unwrap’ the concept and help people to find out more; and encourage them to get involved themselves.   

The gallery is hosting a range of more than 40 images, including the animals that are the ‘ecosystem engineers’ and make rewilding happen, the people who choose to rewild, and the landscapes that result from rewilding.  It also includes some drone photography of some areas being rewilded, and a range of fine-art black and white images that explore the ‘messiness’ and uncertainty that surrounds rewilding.   Sam will also set out a couple of surprise exhibits as part of the display by the end of the week. 

The work was all undertaken over the last two years as part of a Masters Degree in Photography at the neighbouring Arts University Bournemouth.  Case studies were undertaken as far afield as Glenfeshie in Scotland and the Lizard in Cornwall, although there is a a particular focus on the Knepp Wildlands in West Sussex, the subject of the book Wilding, mentioned above. 

Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project and the first person Sam interviewed for this project says: “This exhibition is quite simply marvellous. Sam Rose has a highly unusual gift…his camera becomes an extension of himself revealing landscapes, wildlife and people as if you are inside his head and, that his head is playing host to a wormhole of thousands of years of experiences, rather than simply a question of framing, light and mathematics. He has a painterly eye and you are left with a sense that he is revealing something more than what is immediately visible.” 

Sam says “I hope that this exhibition will inspire people to find out a bit more about rewilding, what it means and why it is so important for us all.  It is all about letting go and allowing nature to take the lead in restoring damaged ecosystems, and about the people who have the courage to do that.  It is amazing and beautiful to see what happens when nature is allowed to thrive, and my thanks go to those who have shared their stories with me. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a website: and a podcast also called “What if you just leave it?” available on most podcast platforms.  It is gratefully supported in part by Heal Rewilding and the Fine Family Foundation, and created in collaboration with the Arts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University.  It will be on show between Jan 10th and Mar 31st 2022 in Poole House, the main entrance to the University’s Talbot campus.