As Summer slides away it’s time to celebrate the work made over the Water-Meadow-Wood residency at Yeovil Country Park in a final showcase event. Elizabeth and Nancy installed the show today with the help of Pauline from the Theatre.
The show follows three key elements of the woods: the leafy canopy ‘Overhead’; the structure and form of trees ‘All Around’, and the mysterious networks ‘Underfoot’.
Working with clay, children and young people have made leaves, bark pots and footprints, creating a permanent imprint of their time in the woods. Everyone was involved throughout the process, mixing underglaze colours and even developing their own ash glaze from materials they collected in the park.
Come and see the results for yourself at the Octagon Theatre! The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday, 12 noon till 5pm, plus theatre show open evenings.
Guest blog post and photography from SAW blogger Davina Jelley
Earlier this year Elizabeth Jardine was appointed to deliver the third and final instalment of the artist residency programme at Yeovil Country Park. This three year project has enabled the local community to artistically engage and investigate the three key elements that shape the park’s landscape and historical development. Year one saw Deborah Westmancoat lead workshops inspired by the Victorian water gardens, year two Carolyn Lefley focused on the expanse of meadow, and this year the spotlight was on wood.
Last week was my first visit to the park and I caught up with Elizabeth in the midst of her last workshop. Despite the light rain and dark summer sky the day was incredibly busy and so well attended that extra supplies of clay had to be sent for. It was very pleasing to see so many families keen to join Elizabeth in making ceramic leaves and I was quite taken with how calmly she oversaw the making process, encouraging all ages to participate.
The children took great delight in rolling out the clay, impressing a leaf into the surface and then carefully cutting out the form, which for some little ones was quite challenging, but they persevered with a little help from parents or older siblings. After applying a coloured glaze, the children could then choose which leaf they wanted to take home, leaving the other to be fired ready to be displayed in the forthcoming exhibition at the Octagon Theatre. I did a quick count of leaves before I headed home and there was nearly one hundred!
Alongside these drop in style workshops Elizabeth has been working on a regular basis with schools and local community groups. Over time these youngsters have learned new skills, built confidence within themselves and formed a personal connection with their local landscape. Elizabeth explained that one boy on his initial visit was reluctant to get off the bus but on his subsequent visit was first off!
Rather than overwhelm the children with information, Elizabeth broke the looking and discovering into different aspects: roots, trunk, canopy. Combine all three and hopefully they can now easily digest and understand a little of the rich habitat of tree and wood, and in turn convey what a tree can inspire.
The results of Elizabeth’s residency can be viewed in the cafe bar at The Octagon Theatre during the 2017 Somerset Art Weeks Festival and is listed as Venue 97 in the brochure. Opening times are Monday – Saturday 12noon – 5pm, plus during theatre show evenings.
Be part of the Water-Meadow-Woods exhibition and residency!
Come and join me at Yeovil Country Park Family day on Friday 28th July between 11am and 4pm. We will roll out leaves and cut them out, colouring them with ceramic underglaze paints. The leaves will be fired and glazed, and will be exhibited in a showcase event at the Octagon theatre in September.
We will use air-drying clay so if you make a second leaf you can take it home with you to keep!
Wonderful Woodlands Family Day Friday 28th July
Pop along to the meadows and woodlands at Ninespirngs to discover the wonderful woodlands and wildlife. There will be owl handling, arts and crafts, woodland nature trail, bug hunting, bushcraft and many more wonderful woodlands activities, all free, adjacent to the Ninesprings Cafe.
For More info please see YCP events page.
We’ve been paying our respects to the forest floor at Yeovil Country Park. Much of the important elements of the woodland happen right under our feet, where roots, soil and minibeasts all live. Soil is integral to the health of a woodland and is made up of organic matter, rock, water, air and living organisms.
Children from both Schools had fun making forest floor footprints, squishing their feet against the soil and cutting around them. We made a paint with soil that we collected, mixing it up and painting it onto the footprints. It is very sandy soil!
Home from Home
We are feeling more and more familiar with the park, and have been exploring a little further each visit. Last week we got up close and personal with the trees again, climbing inside; outside and underneath them, inpecting a badger set and a hollow tree. On one session, a terrible storm made us seek shelter but we brought the outside in, making a cosy den with branches and netting, we felt right at home!
We’ve come down from the leafy canopy and have been studying the structure of trees, looking at bark and branches. Bark is a really important part of the tree. The inner bark transports minerals up from the roots. The outer bark protects the tree and creates a range of ecological niches which provide habitats for different plants and animals.
Students from Fiveways have been very busy mapping tree textures at Ninesprings. Each tree is entirely unique! We made some beautiful pots and wall-hangings. Preston students enjoyed experimenting with ceramic oxides to highlight the texture of their tree-trunk pots. Oxides are metallic pigments which will react with the final glaze to produce exciting colours.
We had a lovely time cooling our feet in the lake after a very active walk familiarising ourselves with the trees. Once we were refreshed we coated our leaves and pots with a transparent glaze to make them super shiny and waterproof.
Students from Fiveways School burned the leaves they had collected previously to make ashes which we will use to develop a ceramic glaze for their tree-trunk pots. It was a good excuse to cook up some yummy marshmallows too thanks to Park Ranger Becky! Students from Preston School foraged on the meadow bonfire site for their ashes. It will be interesting to compare the different results!
With thanks to Nancy Castle for the photographs.
Summer is in full swing as we delve deeper into the woods. Fiveways School began their sessions this week with some adventurous orienteering, using a map to find their way to a secret lakeside location.
We collected lots of leaves on the way, and explored their different properties before making our own ceramic leaves and some little bowls. It was a rather hot day and we were very envious of the ducks and swans enjoying the cool water!
After a spot of lounging around in the canopy, students from Preston School worked together to make tree-trunk wrap-around pots. We rolled clay slabs and pressed them against our favorite tree. It was very exciting to peel the clay away from the tree-trunk, revealing the texture of the bark.
Trees and plants draw out a unique cocktail of minerals from the underlying geology, which are still present after the plant is burned. I’ve begun developing some ceramic glazes using ash collected from Yeovil Counrty Park. I’m looking forward to seeing the results!
May’s merry mix of warm and wet weather has brought all the trees into leaf at Yeovil Country Park. It has been a spectacular time to begin my time here as artist in residence for the final year of Water-Meadow-Wood. I’ve begun exploring the park and finding out about the variety of trees and habitats, with expert guidance from park ranger Becky Russell.
I will be working closely with groups of children from two local Schools; Preston and Fiveways. Using clay we will imprint a record of our interaction with the trees in the park all the way from root to leaf. We have begun by making ceramic leaves and mixing underglaze colours to reflect the variety of greens on display. A showcase of the artwork will be exhibited at the Octagon Theatre in September.
Family Friendly Workshops
There will be three Family Friendly Workshops over the course of the residency. The first took place last weekend at Wonderful Woodlands, a brilliant event organised by Yeovil Country Park, which had over 200 visitors! My workshop celebrated the importance of woodland as a habitat for wildlife; making Minibeast Wonder-worlds using a variety of sculpture techniques. I was hugely impressed by the participants’ creations, and I’m really looking forward to the next event!
I am delighted to announce that I will be assisted during the residency by Nancy Castle, a local photographic artist and Forest School educator.