Artist Residency Opportunity Water – Meadow – Wood, Year Three

Somerset Art Works is delivering an artist residency programme at Yeovil Country Park following the themes of Water – Meadow – Wood.

This three-year project is providing greater engagement with people and new opportunities to interpret the natural, cultural and historical heritage of Yeovil Country Park.

The theme for 2017 and the final year of the project is ‘Wood’, the woodland as a place and as a habitat, providing inspiration for creative exploration.

The artist appointed will deliver 15 participatory sessions through the Year Three residency period. For full details and artist brief click here: http://somersetartworks.org.uk/2017/02/artist-residency-opportunity-water-meadow-wood/

 

Farewell to the meadow

As the meadows of the park slowly disappear and the seasons begin to change, late August was the perfect time to install an outdoor exhibition at the park. The ‘Meadow Finds’ exhibition was open on 20th -21st August, showcasing all of the work created during the Meadow residency with the community groups. The weather forecast had predicted heavy rain and strong winds for the Saturday, but thankfully it was mostly dry and though the wind was a challenge when installing the work, it all held up well. The exhibition was well received and attracted attention from passers-by as the show was installed along the pathway beside the visitors centre. The Saturday afternoon workshop, ‘Postcards from the park’ was also popular. Participants made cyanotype and leaf imprint postcards from flora and fauna from the meadows.

 

Meadow Finds exhibition

The Meadow Finds exhibition consisted of works made with St. Gildas Primary School in Yeovil and South Somerset MIND. As described in an earlier blog post pupils from St. Gildas took photographs in the meadows and made cyanotype bunting. During workshops with South Somerset MIND I took them on two photo walks on the Meadow Finds photography walking trail (this trail map can be downloaded here). A selection of the participant’s photographs were printed as collages onto weatherproof ‘eco’ banners (these are made with recyclable material) and attached to the trees in the Ninesprings meadow.

Alongside these photo collages I installed the huge group fabric piece which I made with MIND: the Meadow Tapestry. Here is a video of it blowing in the wind at the park.

It measures around 4 metres wide and was created over several workshops with MIND. I wanted to make a completed piece as a collaboration with the group members and myself. The word tapestry comes from the old French word tapis meaning carpet. The meadowlands are a carpet of grasses and flowers underfoot. A tapestry is also normally displayed as a wall hanging, so I thought it would be fitting to create a tapestry scale piece to hang in the trees at the park. Though a tapestry is usually an embroidered piece, here we used light to ‘write’ nature onto the sun sensitive fabric. Each piece was created as a separate panel which I sewed together on my mother’s 45 year old trustworthy sewing machine!

I sat by the Meadow Tapestry on Sunday and chatted to visitors. Many were interested to hear about the light sensitive printing process, which we used to create the tapestry. The cyanotype process (also known as sun printing) involves coating either paper or, in this case, fabric with an iron-based solution that is sensitive to UV light. Once dry, items such as leaves can by laid on top of the sensitised material and left in the sunlight to expose. When rinsed in tap water, white silhouetted shapes remain. When I first experimented with this process a few years ago I bought the pre-coated sun print paper and fabric (see links at the bottom of the post). Then I started mixing my own solution and experimenting using watercolour papers and fabrics.

Final MIND workshop

On Monday 22nd August I had the final workshop with South Somerset MIND. After a celebratory, meadow-themed picnic (including elderflower fizz and a caterpillar cake!) we went on a photo walk from the meadows into the woodlands. We followed the path up to the springs, which many hadn’t visited in years. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the park.

With all of the community workshops finished and the show packed up, the public facing part of my residency is complete. I’ve been taking my own photographs since the spring and am working on a limited edition publication (news of which will be updated on my website: www.carolynlefley.co.uk). The work by St. Gildas is going to be re-displayed in the Yeovil Country Park Visitors Centre in September. The Meadow Tapestry will hopefully be displayed somewhere in the county in the near future too.

Links:

Solar Paper from Silverprint: http://shop.silverprint.co.uk/Silverprint-Solar-Paper-5×7-Inch-35-Sheets/product/2172/2172/

Sunography Fabric – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004T0YMGK

How to make your own solution – www.alternativephotography.com

Information sheet to download on the cyanotype process – Cyanotypes info

Meadow Finds exhibition and workshop, 20-21 August

The Meadow Finds outdoor exhibition opens this weekend at Yeovil Country Park. This is a free, two day event. Come to the Ninesprings part of the park to view artwork created by workshop participants for the meadow themed residency. I’ll be running a free, drop-in cyanotype (sun print) workshop, ‘Postcards from the park’. There will also be free printed copies of my Meadow Finds, photography walking trail map available for visitors to take away and explore the whole park.

Meadow finds

An outdoor exhibition of photographic work made in the meadows of the park.

Ninesprings, Yeovil Country Park

20-21 August 2016. 10am-4pm daily.

Somerset Art Works appointed Carolyn Lefley as Artist in Residence at Yeovil Country Park for 2016. This is the second year for the Water-Meadow-Wood residency programme and the theme this year is Meadow. Carolyn worked with community groups to co-create artworks that respond to the Meadow theme. Participants explored a range of photographic techniques, from traditional sun prints to digital photography walking tours. The Meadow residency culminates in an outdoor showcase exhibition at Ninesprings. Come along and see the artworks displayed in the trees. 

 

Postcards from the park

Ninesprings Visitor Centre, Yeovil Country Park

20 August 2016, 2-4pm

Carolyn will show you how to make a sun-exposed cyanotype postcard created with natural material from the park. This activity will be free and suitable for all ages. 

postcards

‘Postcards from the park’ workshop, Saturday 20th August, 2-4pm.

This workshop will take place with the backdrop of the outdoor show. I’m busy preparing the two big collabative pieces I’ve made with St. Gildas School and South Somerset MIND. The largest and most ambitious work is a 13 ft x 4ft fabric cyanotype peice, the ‘Meadow Tapestry’. Here are a two photographs of the work in progress:
I’m looking forward to meeting lots of visitors at the park this weekend. The meadow flowers are just starting to fade and the grasses turn to hay. As we near the end of the summer this is a fitting time to celebrate the meadow spaces of the park and the artworks made within them.
meadow-haiku
Meadow haiku
   Meadowland awaits,
      A tapestry of flowers
          Amidst swaying grass.
                    Carolyn Lefley, 2016

Foraging for art

Grace Green, a recent graduate from the Fine Art course at Falmouth University, has been working as my residency assistant. I’ve invited Grace to describe how she is finding the project so far:

Since starting at the end of June and working with Carolyn I have been struck by the way the workshops inspire and engage with different groups of people. We have been using the cyanotype process to create sun prints with found materials from the meadow and park land. The process of gathering foliage has been one I have enjoyed most and have noticed it is an inspiring way for people to really see nature and plants that make the meadow so beautiful. It’s fascinating to watch people immersed in the activity of arranging the plants in response to the contour and gaining an understanding in the way cyanotype works. (Grace Green, July 2016)

Grace and I have developed a bit of a rhythm for our workshop days. After we have set up some trestle tables and all of the cyanotype materials, we go hunting for plants around the park. At first this was a great way to get to know each other and introduce Grace to the parkland. On busier days I send Grace off on her own to ‘forage’, as we refer to it, while I prepare for the workshop. Lately we’ve had time to let the participants forage too. They have also enjoyed the act of slowing down and searching through the often overlooked areas of the park to discover their ‘meadow finds’.

forage3

Under the shade on an oak tree. Cyanotype workshop with South Somerset MIND. July 2016.

‘Meadow finds’ photography walking trail

Since visiting the park in the spring I’ve been struck by how the meadow areas of the park are like hidden gems, to be discovered by taking a diversion off the main paths. I’ve developed a walking route to encompass the meadows and have been taking workshop participants from South Somerset MIND on sections of it. After trying different methods to map or plot the route, I thought it would be appropriate to make a cyanotype map (as I’ve been making cyanotype prints all summer with various workshop participants). After much trial and error experimenting with formats, here is the finished map. You can print these two A4 maps out and visit the route to take your own pictures.

Photography walking trail map 1: Penn Hill, Ninesprings, Summerhouse Hill and Wyndham Hill. Yeovil Country Park

ninesprings_meadow_finds

Printable PDF download of photography walking trail map 1ninesprings_meadow_finds

This map shows the route of a six mile self-guided photo walk through Yeovil Country Park. Follow the white dotted line to walk through 127 acres of parkland, along the meadow-covered hillsides and riverbanks rich with wild flowers. The flowers on the map denote the key meadow areas. The meadowlands of the park are linked by the woodlands and waterways of the River Yeo and Dodham Brook (‘Dod’ is an Old English word for hill and ‘ham’ means an area of land near streams, or ‘hamm’ meaning meadow).

The trail starts at Penn Hill where you can discover two hidden meadow areas at the top of the hill. The route continues down into the Ninesprings area, through meadows and woodlands. The trail then follows the disused railway line taking in the meadow areas on Summerhouse Hill and Wyndham Hill.

As you walk along the Meadow Finds route take photographs of anything that takes your interest or think about these six ideas:

Miniature (close ups of nature)

Explore (ideas of journeying, walking, and travelling)

Abstract (details in nature that become almost unrecognisable)

Detail (look for patterns in nature)

Overlooked (take time to slow down and discover overlooked beauty)

Wilderness (find the wild areas with the urban setting of the park)

 

Photography walking trail map 2: Riverside Walk, Yeovil Country Park.

riverside_walk_meadow_finds

Printable PDF download of photography walking trail map 2: riverside_walk_meadow_finds

This section of the #meadowfinds map shows the part of the photo walk that explores the Riverside Walk area of the park. You can join the route from the Wyndham Hill area by walking down the appropriately named ‘Flushing Meadow’ road, next to Yeovil Pen Mill station. The Riverside Walk follows the River Yeo, passing through rough meadow and woodland.

This map has been created by visual artist Carolyn Lefley, who is Artist in Residence at Yeovil Country Park in 2016. Somerset Art Works (SAW) appointed Carolyn for the second year of their Water-Meadow-Wood residency programme and the theme in 2016 is Meadow. This photography walking route encompasses all of the meadow areas of the park. Carolyn has been walking sections of this route with participants of her summer workshop series. She will also be walking the route at different times over 2016 to photograph #meadowfinds. You can upload and share your #meadowfinds photographs on a public flickr group www.flickr.com/groups/meadowfinds/

This project is funded by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts programme and supported by South Somerset District Council – Yeovil Country Park Team.

Enjoy the last few weeks of seeing the meadows in bloom, and don’t forget to take your camera!

Busy bees

‘Brilliant Bees’ ranger-led afternoon

Following on from the success of the last ranger-led event I joined with in May, last weekend I joined the Brilliant Bees event at the park. It was even busier than the last event, so I got to meet lots of new people and show them how to create cyanotype prints (we also had some return visitors). This event was geared towards families and my workshop was for all ages. As with the last event I had children as young as three years old creating cyanotype prints. This time parents also were encouraged to make prints and we even had some adults attending on their own, specifically for the sun printing. This was really encouraging and great to work with people of such a varied age range. Participants made sun prints of a whole range of images, including flowers, bees (see photo below!), butterflies, letters and more traditional nature studies.

The weather was kind again, and it was textbook sun printing conditions (sunny and a very low wind speed). It clouded over about 20 minutes before the end of the event, which was perfect timing, as it allowed some time for reflection and discussion with the visitors at the end of a very busy session. The whole event was a huge success and it was great to meet the team from the Bumblebee Conversation Trust (one of whom even made a sun print!). If you’d like to come to the park and make a print, I’m running my final free public workshop on the 20th August. Please do come along!