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Unpicked Meadow May 2010–May 2011

Unpicked Meadow In March 2010 artist Jo Chapman was chosen to lead a public art project for Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, by residents of the village. Her brief was to create a year long programme featuring visiting artists and workshops to engage the local community and to inform a final artwork at Melbourn’s Riverside Park, Stockbridge Meadows. Rather than an artist coming to the village for a day or two to create a work without knowing the area, Jo was commissioned to spend time finding out about the Meadows and meeting people through creative workshops. This publication reflects that process and the fantastic contributions of the people of Melbourn between May 2010 and May 2011. Melbourn Parish Council looked at possible options and sites for the project and Riverside Park was ideal. As well as being a public space, the Park reflects much of Melbourn’s heritage with the River Mel and fruit orchards. For details on the park and its location in the village, see


The Parish Council supported the project and appointed Arts Development Manager Kirstin Bicknell to coordinate the works. Funding came, through South Cambridgeshire District Council, from Camstead Homes for a residential development at Rupert Neve Close. Please see the project website for more information


A year on How to begin to encapsulate a year’s worth of experiences, the people I’ve met, the words said and the things made? This is the process that I have been sifting through over the past few months, bringing it all together, extracting and distilling elements to put into new forms, finally arriving at a result which is this publication and the final artworks. This is essentially a poetry book and an object in its own right as well as being a document of the project. The artworks which are permanently placed in Riverside Park, Stockbridge Meadows, Melbourn are a lasting legacy to the year long project and over time will take on a life of their own becoming a part of their surroundings. As ideas developed it became clear to me that a series of works was needed, because walking around it was one of the main experiences of the Meadows. I decided on three pieces as they balance each other well with a beginning, middle and end thereby reflecting the project and its cycle of a year turning. I wanted the artworks to have architectural qualities in order to complement the natural forms of the meadow and to be seasonal pieces referring to spring/summer, summer/autumn and autumn/winter. In addition to being aesthetically intriguing they also had to be robust, simple in design and make maximum use of a modest budget. The resulting sculptural ‘drawings’ are three steel towers that incorporate elements from the four Renga poems written by various people from Melbourn over the year and imagery drawn from the structure of leaves, grasses and feathers, all of which were found and recorded on the Meadows. The intricate cut out patterns and text of the towers allows light to fall through creating shadows of words onto other surfaces. Fragments of the landscape can also be viewed through the artworks as you move around reminding you of their connections with the setting.


At the beginning of the project in May 2010 a year seemed an immense length of time and ideas were flowing and springing up much like the plants in the Meadows themselves. From the beginning I had intended to work with other artists to bring in elements such as sound and words, in particular I wanted to work with a writer. So I was pleased when I met writer Clare Crossman and she expressed an interest in being part of the project. I felt that Clare was the perfect person to be working with; she is a poet and writer with extensive experience of working with people and is familiar with Melbourn and the local area. Clare suggested using Japanese Renga poetry writing as a structure to work within. I knew little about it but after she explained in more detail, I was sure that this was right for the project and was a really interesting approach to writing communally. Renga is a series of short verses linked into one long poem; it is usually linked to its season of composition. It originates in Japan, where Renga Parties were held in villages and towns. They were an opportunity for anyone and everyone to write something.


As the project progressed ideas became reality and it became apparent that a more permanent shelter was needed if we were to hold workshops, host Renga parties and spend time on the Meadows. I wanted the project to have a visible presence on the Meadows, the connection with nature to be as immediate as possible and also to encourage visitors to come and make, or just to walk, sit and listen. After our first shelter, a large gazebo, blew away, we knew we needed something more robust. I decided on a caravan as a mobile meeting and workshop space. I found a caravan for sale that was being used as a shed and having already been stripped out, it was perfect with half the job already done. The caravan was towed back to its new home at Melbourn Village College and the Artivan

was created. As the budget was tight I found, begged and borrowed materials to rebuild the inside, keeping it as spacious as possible. Throughout the year the Artivan made several ventures onto the Meadows and was a shelter from wind and rain. Many of the workshops took place inside, as well as the Renga writing parties and artist Holly Rumbles’ sound performance Migrations. The caravan became central to the project and created for me a sense of place and a way to spend time at the Meadows. Through the numerous events and workshops held at Melbourn Village College, on the Meadows, at residential homes and schools, there has been a wealth of creative happenings. These were all intended to encourage people to look at and engage with nature in a myriad of ways. There were several strands, which ran through the project like a spine, providing structure and continuity; these were the Renga poems, the Stockbridge Tapestry and the Artivan. These strands were the glue that held the project together and the tools for providing the people of Melbourn with a way to make a contribution.


In addition to leaving a legacy with the tangible outcomes of the project, the artworks and this book, I would hope that there has also been other more subtle, changes. These shifts may be very small and barely discernable but will add something to the whole, maybe some creative seeds have been sown, some ideas generated, new people inspired, alongside which the Meadows have grown and moved into a new stage in their history. Thank you to everyone that made it happen in some way.


Spring Renga – A Vessel of Sky


Millions of may petals fading blowing brightly blossom should flower all year round butterfly visitors on my rosemary tree fleeting as a well lived a life I wish animals to be respected green is not just green but colours and emotions that a natural place inspires sticky sticks with hairy hooks hang on tight won’t let go at the bridge I found a grey feather softly blowing under a lantern moon fields green and beautiful trees bloom and flowers open, which means that spring is here purple flower on the ground is purple snows gone sun comes lambs arrive wind blows blossom set free

brown rabbits with bushy tails hop in fields eating I wish more cared about nature so it did not get harmed to watch water from long grass is simple pleasure there is a universe in one grassy patch of spring from millions of them leaves fall every year tears from a gloomy sky fall on parched earth to nourish nature bees hum drunk on honey blossom four wishes art respect colour and dancing every day river collecting leaves becomes a vessel of sky.


SPRING FIELD NOTES First visits to the meadows Blossom on the trees Found a ring of feathers Forget-me-nots, primulas Welcome wall Poems and wishes Clare Crossman I wish animals could talk Bought the caravan Towed caravan back to Melbourn Village College Workshop at Orchard Manor Melbourn primary pupils contribute Named project unpicked meadow Nettles, vetch, dandelion Launch weekend Gazebo blew away


TO DO AND MAKE Make a wish for a tree Think of a wish Maybe one to make the world a better place Write the wish on a piece of paper Or Paint onto a small piece of wood Attach a bit string Go to the meadows Or Your garden Choose a tree Tie your wish to the tree A good luck charm



Summer Renga – Appearing Trick


Tree giving deep shade above our head high swallows summer sings above the meadow bird song echos through clear sky while green grass lays so still shame it is just a dream that we’re always waiting for even just for a day ice on the road to work, field is hungry a hare and I leave tracks urban life style now no long walks across green drive by beauty grey cities city neon message declares undying, crying love going to sleep at night but as for waking no more stories to tell but listen moon-faced harvest you blood red celebration a long road hugs a slow curve of the earth dust fills my boots my mouth each unfurling leaf bud green is a fragile lantern lit sunflower seed planted I watch it on the window ledge joy to see those bright petals strangers on a bright red quilt our whole day lit on this page as the last person leaves dragonflies shimmer living in colour.


SUMMER FIELD NOTES Caravan becomes artivan Workshops with Melbourn Village College Designs for caravan selected Found wood for floor Found chairs and table Took caravan to Melbourn Fete First visit to the meadow for artivan Sea of ox-eye daises Long grasses in drifts Rabbit holes Rainy afternoon in the artivan Stockbridge Tapestry started Open weekend Patsy, Christine and dog Sticks, lizards, Liz McGowan Poetry, clay fruit A meadow in a bag, Mark Haywood Families and passers-by join workshops Ceramic number plates


TO DO AND MAKE Meadow in a bag You will need a paper bag and a pencil Or make one from two sheets of paper joined together at the side; 1 Collect 4 leaves put in bag 2 Catch the wind 3 Smell 6 things describe onto bag 4 Compose a song about the meadows 5 Find a stone or shell 6 Find a favourite place leave a dream there, whisper it 7 Dance like a river 8 Build a sculpture from sticks 9 Find a tree that looks like an animal and draw it 10 Look at the sky, listen to birds place the memory in the bag




Autumn Renga – An Inhalation


A day of smoked amber air clear as a glass goblet sun leaves last golden scorches crisp still air hugging a cool blanket glistening water jewels adorning grass shiny red apples falling from trees amongst leaves golden green crunchy hard sun snow melt dried grass catch the moment in a pool of glass as shadows grow long living beings cling to rays of the setting sun colours shift morph over changing seasons moving flavours of our experiences winter now on the horizon I long for spring longer days to come o to be a wild rabbit on the meadow a carefree life a burrow with family and friends we swam the lake it was slightly too cold warm pressed together no greater trepidation joy hope contentment you everything shifts we pass through a transient world leaves falling meadow calling see the moon reflecting in the lake direction to the adventures we could take


snow when it comes will build palaces of ice on tree branches fields wellingtoned we wade knee deep in mist robins throbbing song fills our heads with sweet notes no season for us we are rocks and stones whose seasons are millennia even in ice we keep written in frost histories of generations spring the waiting game fingers of sunlight probe deep and touch alive air and light hold a sharp edged feel new warmth beckons sun pushes through seasons flow like tides gently transforming all our landscapes to be new unbuttoning coat removing hat green spears fighting flying upwards first goldfinch feeds flashes of yellow red black an inhalation dead trees become leaf through cracked shells in the live sky what stops and freezes always dissolves and melts here’s the sun rising again.


AUTUMN FIELD NOTES Fruit back to the ground Tapestry grows Piece arrives from Paris Visit residents at Moorlands Read poetry Leaf prints Leaves from the sky Warm sun for renga Holly Rumble, Bruce, Clare, Sarah Fire Party Brownies make lanterns Migrations sound performance Melbourn singers Meadow dark and magical Full moon


TO DO AND MAKE Leaf prints You will need: white paper, different leaves, printing ink or marker pens a roller or rolling pin. Go outside Find different shaped leaves With marker pen; Find a smooth flat surface Place a sheet of paper on it Ink one side of the leaf with pen Place onto paper ink side down Roll over pressing hard Lift up leaf Find print on paper With printing inks; Roll out a very thin layer of ink onto a flat hard surface such as a lino tile Place the leaf onto the inked surface Place a sheet of paper over the top Roll over the paper, pressing hard Lift off the top sheet of paper Lift off leaf One side of leaf will be inked Place inked side on new sheet of paper Roll over again Lift up leaf Find print on paper Repeat and experiment


Winter Renga – Hibernating


Light writes wet grey trees stone carved stern as silhouettes birds lift cold wings rosy cheeks crunching snow smoking breath bobble hats beacon of glowing nature of intent unknown a floating ballon thoughts rising through mist hopes crystallising then fragmenting breezy winds in the air I don’t think they are going anywhere daisies spring in molehills sun cream sand heat and sea trickling sweat from bodily heat meaningful and deep an unbreakable devotion a warm light keeps rising toasting pink marshmallows over a tiny squashy candle flame golden leaves fall to ground creatures prepare for winter collect berries fruit nuts auburn orb suspended above fast circling emails passers-by create something greater than casual walk could imagine

I sit on the bench alone hibernating waiting for summer breezes blow trees sway bees buzz and forage spring flowers blossom around the suspended sky white swans cover the fields flying over my house barking flapping whooping

WINTER FIELD NOTES Renga in artivan Cold Blankets, lots of clothes Hot chocolate and marshmallows Early snow Gathering thoughts Thinking about ideas for final pieces Tapestry grows Stitched long tail tits Workshops with Melbourn Village College art students Welcome wall still there, weathering in Bare trees Standing and fallen deadwood Final artwork proposed Open afternoon at the meadows Positive responses Pieces start being made


TO DO AND MAKE Migrations: a score to perform based on Stockbridge Meadow’s visiting birds Part 1: Everyone reads list as a round, starting after the person before you has said “Buzzard”

Part 2: Group 1 read full bird name Group 2 slowly read letters whilst playing notes

Black-headed gull Blackbird Bluetit Buzzard Chaffinch Chiffchaff Collared dove Crow Dunnock Goldcrest Great spotted woodpecker Great tit Green woodpecker Greenfinch Jackdaw Jay Kingfisher Long-tailed tit Magpie Mallard Mistle thrush Moorhen Pheasant Robin Rook Song thrush Swift Wood pigeon Wren



Acknowledgements Melbourn Parish Council wishes to thank everyone who took part in this project: families who participated in the summer workshops and the lantern parade; all the renga poem writers; everyone who contributed to the Stockbridge Tapestry and all who helped make the project a success. With special thanks to Councillors Rosemary Gatward, Jose Hales, Michael Sherwen and Peter Simmonett; Keith Rudge; Andy O’Hanlon, Rob Mungovan and Richard Hales at South Cambridgeshire District Council; Steve Papps; Sue Butler; Sharon Camilletti and the Melbourn Village Plan group; the residents and staff and Moorlands residential home; Elaine Stephenson, Sarah Heeks, Irene Bloomfield and the staff and students at Melbourn Village College; Melbourn Primary School and Orchard Manor; Melbourn Primary School PTFA; Melbourn 1st Brownies; StART Arts Development Managers; Cambourne Bloco, Colin Limming and the Melbourn History Group; Melbourn Library; All Saints Community Hall; Melbourn Fete; Melbourn Winter Flower Festival; Monica Gillings; Bruce Huett; Sarah Ellen Ayrgael and all the volunteers who helped at the artist selection evening, the lantern parade and installing the art works. The renga poems were led by poet Clare Crossman and also written with: Spring: Welcome wall haikus composed by workshop participants. Summer: Sue Butler (assistant), Holly Gatward, Lily Gatward, Vanessa Gatward, Jilly Hall and Hilary Sugai. Autumn: Emma Alcock, Caroline Baker, Kirstin Bicknell, Jo Chapman, Steph Clifford, Bruce Huett, Hilde Diemberger, Holly Rumble, Margaret Sparks, Barbara Vale, Janet Williams. Winter: Mollie Barnet, Kirstin Bicknell, Jo Chapman, Helen Clayton, Bruce Huett, Amy Little, Emily Smith.


Jo Chapman: Clare Crossman: Mark Haywood: Liz McGowan: Holly Rumble: Kirstin Bicknell: Designed and produced by aquarium,

Unpicked Meadow Publication  

Unpicked Meadow Publication

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