Creative Group Members

Tim Holt-Wilson, letterpress experiment
David Whatley, Woodblock print
Ivan Clark, Hare lino-print
Mary Thompson, photographs
Sheila Tilmouth
Ivan Clark, illustration
Gillian Farlam, pastel drawing of silver birch
Creative Group art works
Sally Mills, tie die with woad
Anne Groves, needlework
Sue Downie, watercolours
Ivan Clarke, illustration
Sally Mills, textiles
Mary Watkins, Norfolk Horn Sheep wool basket
Creative Group art works

Over a year from September 2012 to October 2013, more than 30 artists, including writers and musicians, attended meetings, shared skills and joined in with workshops, events and exhibitions as part of the LOHP Creative Group.

Residents local to the project area were invited to join the Creative Group, of which included well-established artists as well as those just starting to explore their creative potential. The group was open to all and free to attend, welcoming people who were interested in discovering and deepening their knowledge of the unique aspects of the valley through a varied programme of creative activities. 

To support and encourage members of the group to develop creative work in response to materials, heritage, environment and species specific to the area, we organised an extensive series of arts workshops, local knowledge sessions and bespoke guided walks on the fens. For example Mike Harding led excellent wildlife and landscape walks on the LOHP sites to introduce us to the unique aspects of the area, and group member Tim Holt Wilson brought a pair of venerable, gnarled marshman’s leather waders, along with some exquisite damask table linen made for Redgrave Hall which opened up discussions about local materials and skills.

Our approach to the project was flexible to be influenced and directed by its members, drawing inspiration from the valley - the species specific to the area, exploring the source of the river, textiles and industry - as well as each other. From January to October, the group met fortnightly for Show & Tell sessions, which gave everyone an opportunity to show their work in a supportive environment, receive critical feedback, be introduced to different practises, as well as meet like-minded people and expand networks. We had open discussions exploring what the participants were interested in, what inspired them creatively, what skills the could share as well as what they wanted to happen in the creative project – which then informed the programme. Working together, we shared, and deepened knowledge of and uses for, local resources such as linen, plants, and wool, as well as explored river sources and their lore. 

Members of the group were involved in the shaping of the programme, which reflected their diverse interests and skills, which included photographers, poets, writers, researchers, wood turners, felt makers, weavers, dyers, printers, painters, illustrators, ceramicists and musicians. They offered suggestions of people to invite to talk and deliver workshops that explored various aspects of the Little Ouse valley – for example photography masterclass on the fens, papermaking from plants workshop, and a session at Francis Cupiss Printers for letterpress text pieces, and were also supported to run skill-sharing workshops for each other, including preparing and dyeing with local woad.

Every member of the group contributed to the exhibitions in some way – from producing artworks and writing, created individual 2D works for the Little Ouse Species Wall collective artwork, lending artefacts for the display, supporting the installation and promotion of the exhibitions, as well as making food to share or performing at the celebration event at the end of the project.

When all the works were brought together for the exhibitions in the village halls at Lopham, Thelnetham and Blo Norton, the extent, variety and quality of work made over the project became apparent, and were seen by over 600 visitors. The LOHP Creative Group enabled many new relationships to form between local residents, and skills and knowledge shared. Since this project has officially finished, many of the members meet regularly as a self led group, to share ideas and continue to make work in response to this unique and special environment.

 

‘This is a landscape that needs and repays immersion and close inspection. Through their work, the participants formed a close bond with the headwaters, one which many hope to pursue.’ Mike Harding

 

 

 

List of participants 2013

Claire Appleby / Barbara Burrows / Sue Brooks / Angela Beeken / Lyn Bennett / Anne Marie Clark / Ivan Clark / Sue Downie / Gillian Farlam / Steve Glason / Anne Groves / Ken Hatton / Sarah Long / Tim Holt-Wilson / Rosemary Humphries / Jane McKenzie / Ken McKenzie / Sally Mills / Pam Ross / Sheila Tilmouth / Mary Thompson / Philip Thompson / Mary Watkins / David Whatley / Rebecca Whatley / Lopham Art Group / Kenninghall Morris Dancers

 

 

In focus

 

David Whatley

Urorobus, the spirit of eternal life, protects the fenland habitat around the source of a river

Woodblock print

 

‘Following the talk at the Sainsbury Centre about the Amazonian Indians and their vibrant culture, myths and symbolic imagery, I reflected on what equivalents we might have in our own culture. During the late spring I discovered a large Grass Snake in a field, and decided to represent Urorobus, the snake, as a spirit guarding one of the fenland sites with some names of the wild flowering plants as its habitat. Water is at its centre, welling up. The task of maintaining the balance of the wetland habitat is a delicate one. The printing block was made from a slice of willow tree felled in January 2013.

The block was planned and sanded smooth and the snake design was drawn on the surface before there were any splits. The design represents Urorobus,, s symbol of eternity; a snake devouring its own tail. Subsequently, through drying out, the block split into its present form, remarkably conveniently for the integrity of the image avoiding a break in the snake except at the tip of its tail. Providential?’

 

 

Tim Holt Wilson

‘I was brought up on the Redgrave Estate in the Little Ouse headwaters area. The Estate is long gone, but I am still aware of its legacy in local life. From my early life onwards, I have been fascinated by links between people and the land, as mediated by old maps, books and people’s stories, and by the relationship between living things and the physical landscape. This has lately become focused into a framework of ‘mythic geography’ and environmental philosophy. As a result, I am experimenting with the potential of words and images as vitalising media.’

 

‘Sources’ 

Publication

‘A pair of 19th century marshman’s waders are a symbol of the centuries of labour which tamed the headwaters of the Little Ouse. Streams were reshaped and lowlying land was drained; water was considered a nuisance, best sent quickly seawards. Changes in the rural economy meant that peat and reeds were no longer cut, horses and cattle were no longer kept; water levels fell, peat wasted; trees and scrub grew; pollution entered the system. Many of the historic fens and damp meadows of the valley floor became neglected or reclaimed for agriculture.‘Sources’ explores the ageless life of water in the valley and its tributaries, and its relationship to people, places, plants and animals. It is also a tribute to the ecological restoration and rewilding work of the LOHP in the five parishes.’

'Sources' is a beautiful compilation of words and photographs available in hardback or paperback format. Please contact Tim at timholtwilson@onetel.com for more information on how to order a copy.

 

 

Steve Glason

A Norfolk Church

At Lopham South an ancient church
with Norman tower so very old
description now in shortened verse
wax lyrical at Eastertide.

How majestic are the yews
the Irish kind with berries red
which grow along a narrow path
leading to a lichened gate.

Ah, history!...what tales can tell
of worshippers and vicars, too
her crumbling stones in need repair
from ravages of seasoned time.

Thus we leave this hallowed place
with daffodils in April sun
to catch a glimpse of Arcady
Blo Norton and Garboldisham.

© Steve Glason, 2008

 

 

Anne Marie Clark

Aqua vita – Divine Water

I, Spirit of the West, element of water, bequeath to you, sparkling streams, babbling brooks, wide meandering rivers.

Cascading waterfalls, shimmering, iridescent ribbons of rainbow light,

Oceans, seas, abundant, effulgent, brimming with life.

All creatures of sea and shore, from flashing fish swimming in silvery shoals, wildly leaping salmon. Dolphin dancers, leviathan whales, navigating my deepest depths.  All come under my protection.

Behold my spirit shines from the very heights to the very depths.

Visit my sacred springs, my healing wells, once hallowed, venerated, revered, honoured. Many travelled the ancient tracks.  Over thousands of years they came to pay homage, for without me no life would be.

Water – cleansing, purifying, nurturing.  Creating abundance, creating chaos, creating destruction.  An indestructible force am I.

Rivers, your life’s blood.  Living arteries, veins sinuously gliding, sliding through labyrinthine landscapes.  Desecrate, despoil, destroy these – and death will dance upon your shrunken, shrivelled skins!

For I am the tide of life !  In my waters all life began.  The ebb and flow of my currents are one with the moon.

My gifts ? Those of fertility, compassion, healing.Tears of grief or joy, despair or happiness, all emotions flow through my element.

I am the Spirit of the West, element of water.  Eternally seek my greatest gifts – inner wisdom, mysteries of the unconscious mind, gifts of intuition, dreams, compassionate love for one another and all sentient beings.

This is the nature of my element …… Aqua Vita.

© Anne Marie Clark, 2013

 

 

Sue Downie 

Indigo Green / Blo’ Norton Fen

‘Sue Downie and fellow members of the Lopham Art group took an enthusiastic part in making pieces for the Little Ouse Species Wall. Sue who has been an amateur artist for many years used this as an exercise, producing each piece in a completely different technique ranging from watercolour and ink, to mixed media. Sue’s paintings also include landscapes such as this watercolour of Blo’ Norton Fen. The title 'Indigo Green / Blo’ Norton Fen' was inspired by a talk by Ian Howard and Sally Mills on the local production of indigo blue dye from woad. Sue used indigo to mix the green of the foliage. Locally sourced indigo is not used to make watercolour but the commercially available pigment has a similar colour.’

 

 

Gill Farlam

Hemp and Linen in the Lopham area

Extract

‘Participants in the Little Ouse Headwaters Project have had two opportunities to examine textiles made from spun hemp or flax, some of them woven locally.Our first visit was to the Castle Museum in Norwich to examine cloths and shepherds' smocks. The second chance to hear about Lopham weaving came with the Blo Norton local history group's evening with Jenny Vere. To illustrate her talk she brought some exquisite tablecloths, woven for Queen Victoria, with the national emblems included in their intricate designs. The width of the cloth surprised us - my knowledge of Jacquard looms, for instance, suggested a narrower weaving width. Initially they seemed too fine to be woven from hemp, but fine hemp was produced by spinners in the Lopham area according to Eric Pursehouse' article ‘Wavney Valley Studies’.

For centuries hemp was grown in South Norfolk and North Suffolk where the soil was good for the crop. In Tudor and Elizabethan times farmers were ordered to grow at least one acre of hemp if they had 60 acres of land. The fines for failure were quite hefty. Shrouds for the dead also had to be made from hempen cloth, until the 17th Century when the wool industry was supported and shrouds were woollen. Hemp was a profitable crop until some time later when the price of wheat rose causing a reduction in hemp-growing. Industrialisation and the arrival of the railways in the 19th Century also affected the hemp trade. Flax was brought in and then cotton, the latter being cheaper.’

Please find full text in catalogue - Visions from the Little Ouse PDF