mark cocker
Claxton, Norfolk

Bio: author and journalist, passionate naturalist and environmental tutor, I also organise wildlife holidays to the Balkans (Greece, Albania and Northern Macedonia), Spain and now north Derbyshire. Check out my website at http://www.mark cocker.com. Blackwater Blog is a jotting pad for ideas and about places and people that have affected me.

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  1. Dear Mr. Cocker,

    I am writing as a teacher and an artist to invite you to a highly original and exciting event that shall be taking place in my school on 23rd April from 4:45- 6:45pm.

    Called Chicken Fest, I have been collaborating for many months now with a group of anthropologists, zooarchaeologists and geneticists under the umbrella group the Chicken Coop, chickenco-op.net, to study the history of man’s relationship to chickens.
    From my perspective as an Art teacher, I have been asking my students to make parallels between the chickens the students are so fond of eating today in the many fast food shops that line the local streets and their prehistoric ancestors by way of examining our shifting relationship to these majestic and complex creatures. My students and will be unveiling a 15metre tall sculpture of a chicken skeleton, which we have hand made to be anatomically accurate, to highlight this relationship and it would be honoured to share this with you. There will be other artworks alongside this, such as large hand crafted feathers based on the exotic plumage seen in many chicken breeds as well as collaborations between Art, English, Science and Geography students.

    My students and I would love you to attend what will be a remarkable evening to showcase their hard work and curiosity into an animal that is incredibly ubiquitous on our dinner tables but remarkably under researched and misunderstood as an animal with rich cultural and spiritual significance. Your attendance would add extra gravitas to what we have been doing and we would love you to see it to first hand and meet the students, teachers and scientists involved. We would love to hear your thoughts on the project and any feedback you have on interdisciplinary approaches to learning in my school and beyond would be really appreciated. Perhaps you would even like to give a short talk on your work with chickens?

    Please let me know if you would be able to attend. If you can make it please let me know if you require anything from me and feel free to bring friends and family along too.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Yours Sincerely

    Ben Frimet
    Art Teacher,
    City of London Academy,
    240 Lynton Rd,
    SE1 5LA

    • mark cocker

       /  February 24, 2015

      Unfortunately Ben you didn’t leave a ‘forwarding address’ so i am hoping you get this. I am away unfortunately in Inverness-shire on that date and could not attend your exciting event. Apologies and thank you for your offer. It sounds a really great project and best of luck to your students. I think one of the key problems with the modern world is the narrowness of vision which we prioritise: arts, science, core curricula etc etc. AS a result we often fail to appreciate the wholeness of the world and the wholeness of nature’s gift. Take something like the chicken, without any cavil, the most important of our living neighbours, aside perhaps from a few species of grass (wheat, barley, rice etc). We underestimate the scale of our debt. In fact the more dependent we are, the more we seem to despise a thing, through a process of over-familiarity. Your project brings back the extraordinariness of the ordinary: the plain old everyday barnyard egg-laying, meat-yielding, health-creating, miracle-working Gallus gallus.

  2. Hannes Johansson

     /  February 3, 2016

    Hi Mark!
    I’m a student at the Prague film school and a big fan of your writing. I’ve been thinking lately about how to make nature documentaries that step away from the traditional format of presenting facts and pretty pictures of animals and instead capture some of what I find in your writing; more of a focus on peoples relationship to nature and the magic of discovery, wandering or just being in nature. I would love to ask you a couple of questions on the subject. Is there a way we could get in touch?

    All best, Hannes Johansson


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