On these terms, is Broughton wild? Well, it certainly has wild places, which are discussed below and there is evidence of self-will and wild acts, as described above, but is it wild? Not really – there are plenty of evident and implicit controls in operation in this locality, a lot of which I seek to enforce as a local street champion (am I an enemy of wildness?). However, there is also a quality of otherness or apartness, which chimes with some of the characterisations above. Equally, parts of the area have been treated in the recent past as something of a terra nullius – a slum that needed to be razed to the ground and re-imagined – and so this mixture of concepts starts to come together to speak productively to the nature of this locality and the sharply ambivalent feelings it evokes in me that are in turn played out through the dual practices considered here. Equally, it could be argued, as referenced above, that I encounter this place as wild and in need of colonising; if not terra nullius, then perhaps terra neglectus - requiring my activity to make things better.
In another appropriation of the term wild and one that is particularly applicable to my practices and interests in this locality, Anna Jorgensen (2012) defines wildscapes as ‘urban spaces where natural as opposed to human agency appears to the shaping the land’ (1). In using this term, she addresses ‘a continuum ranging from ‘wilderness’ to apparently ordered spaces, with different levels of wildness existing at multiple different scales in each locality’ (2). This is also explored in a 2007 article that Jorgensen co-authored with Martin Tylecote, which focuses on ‘wilderness in urban interstices’ and the ambivalent feelings created by these ‘loose’ or semi-wild places, citing ‘woodland, abandoned allotments, river corridors, derelict or brownfield sites and especially areas in which the spontaneous growth of vegetation through natural succession suggests that nature is in control’ (454). There are a number of interstices/wildscapes in Broughton, from overgrown empty plots of land to the river corridor, which fit this notion of loose or unordered spaces and where nature is the controlling force. For the purposes of this article, I am focusing primarily on the largest and most prevalent example – a wooded area, called Kersal Dale – as it has been the primary focus for my creative research in recent months.