Covert Ecologies

Covert Ecologies is a series of habitats that explore mutualistic relationships between insects, humans and the urban environment.

Built from scavenged local materials, they represent a reconstructed landscape of meaning. Heavily influenced by their surroundings in Glasgow, the habitats trace the paths between small-scale activities and local agency to wider cultural changes in the face of an increasingly hostile climate.

In cities, insects are adapting to life in the cities where they are marginalised. They face many threats – from toxins, faulty visual signifiers, light pollution and radio frequencies. On the other hand, the diversity of life in our cities creates thriving ecological niches, which are valuable to many species,

Locating the wild in our immediate environments makes it possible to notice how other species organise their lives around built environments and human activity – and how we could organise ours around theirs.

Looking at the perils but also unintentional opportunities created by our urban landscapes for other species, we can ask where the future balance of power lies in the spaces we cohabit, as well as new pathways towards future representation and collaborative survival.

Sometimes, it’s just about planting seeds where you least expect them to grow – and when they eventually do, it makes their existence that much more important.

For humans, the habitats act as a tool for placemaking and challenging binaries, facilitating wider discussions about belonging, privilege and locality. For insects, these hybrids of artificial and organic materials are an invitation to participate in reclaiming urban materials and conditions.

By embracing but also confronting shared themes of nostalgia and disintegration of identity and value, these speculative habitats attempt to make peace with the past by offering a hopeful future.

Habitat Images: Joe Habben