Meet Kathryn Parsons (pictured), Langdyke’s Artist in Residence – appointed to use her skills to bring a bit of colour to the Trust’s 20th birthday celebrations .
We asked her some questions about her new role. These are her
Q: How did the idea for the project come about?
A: The initial idea for Langdyke Stories grew out of a conversation with Richard Astle last autumn. Langdyke has a long history of working with artists, and having ‘artists in residence’. I was asked whether I might be interested – I said yes straight away! The next step was to come up with some ideas to Langdyke’s Trustees and Committee.
It felt important to me to involve as many people as possible – Langdyke is all about people coming together to make things happen, and art can be a great way to reach people and help them connect with nature and each other. That’s where the idea for a community art project came from. I knew that community projects, where you’re working with lots of different groups, can be complex to manage so I suggested we talk to Sam Roddan of Art Pop-Up, who has a great deal of experience running highly successful art projects. Happily Art Pop-Up agreed to take on the project, and so “Langdyke Stories” was born, with Art Pop-Up, Langdyke and me working in close collaboration.
Q: How are things going?
A: The community artwork is now well underway, and in all we’ll be working with 300 people from our local community. Each person is going to create their own miniature artwork inspired by Langdyke’s nature and heritage. These beautiful gems will be joined together and displayed at the 20th anniversary celebrations. We’re using paper that has been coloured using a technique called eco-printing, using leaves from the Langdyke reserves to infuse the paper with colour …. I wanted to use eco-printing because of the gentle, relatively eco-friendly processes involved.
Langdyke Stories includes other elements too – we’ve launched a community history project, called The Museum of Objects. Also as Langdyke’s Artist in Residence I’m creating my own artworks for display at the celebrations, and Art Pop-Up will be publishing a beautiful souvenir Langdyke Stories anniversary book for Langdyke. The book will be published in time for the September Langdyke Stories Celebration and annual meeting in Castor on September 13, and everyone that has contributed to the artwork will receive their own free copy.
Q: Where did the funding come from?
A: Art Pop-Up secured the funding for the project from the Peterborough Community Fund and Athene Communications. We’re very grateful to these organisations, and delighted to be able to say that this sponsorship and funding means that this project is not drawing on Langdyke funds.
Q: What are the main aims?
A: At the heart of Langdyke Stories is a desire to spread the news of Langdyke’s work to protect and nurture our local wildlife and heritage in a different, fun and enjoyable way. The art workshops and the Museum of Objects are giving us opportunities to talk with local people about what Langdyke has achieved over the last 20 years. We hope more people will become involved by visiting Langdyke’s reserves, coming to events and joining in work parties, becoming part of the Langdyke ‘family’, and that connections within the local community will be strengthened as a result. Art activities are also a really good way for people to connect with the natural world, and that’s something very precious, especially these days. We want Langdyke Stories to begin or reinforce people’s connection with Langdyke and the nature reserves, and for those connections to grow and flourish in the future.
Q: How will Langdyke Stories work?
A: Sam Roddan of Art Pop-Up is leading the project, in close collaboration with Langdyke. As well as managing the project, Sam, who is an artist herself, will also be designing and publishing the Langdyke Stories book. I will be delivering the workshops as well as creating my own artworks that celebrate Langdyke’s stories – the people, plants, wildlife and heritage. Art Pop-Up will also be running free artist-led workshops for visitors to Langdyke’s summer festival on 29th June.
The Museum of Objects is being led by one of Langdyke’s Trustees, David Cowcill. It was his magnificent idea, and he will be working with a small team of volunteers.
We have already put out a call for beautiful images of Langdyke’s landscape, people and nature – so if you have a photograph that you’d like to have considered for the book please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: How will the Museum of Objects work?
A: We’re inviting people to think of an object that says something about their connection with our local countryside, and bring it along to the Family Fun Day on June 29 , or the Peterborough Heritage Festival. We’ll photograph the objects and collect the stories. A small team will then choose their ‘top 10’ stories for inclusion in the Langdyke Stories book.
It feels to me that this part of the project links well with the work of Langdyke’s Heritage and Archaeology Group – they find out about historic connections with Langdyke countryside through the objects that they find…. and the Museum of Objects will do the same only without first having to bury the things for 100s of years!
Q: What will success look like?
A: Success will be.… more people that have heard of Langdyke, more people coming to events, visiting reserves and getting involved in Langdyke. There will also be a legacy of groups coming together – new contacts being made because so many groups are working together, sometime for the first time…. and also a richer knowledge of our local countryside, its heritage and wildlife.
Q: What are the main events?
A: Workshops are already underway with community groups.
At the Peterborough Heritage Festival we’ll be taking over Vivacity’s Unit in Queensgate (opposite McDonalds), with a drop-in Langdyke Stories workshop, poets reciting local-landscape-related poems, Langdyke information and an opportunity for people to bring along an object to be photographed for the Museum of Objects.
Other events include:
June 29 2-5pm – Langdyke’s Family Fun Day at Etton-Maxey – load happening as described before
September 13 Langdyke Stories Celebration and annual meeting in Castor will bring together all the artworks created this year, as well as all that Langdyke is planning with a line up of great speakers
Q: What’s happening at the open day?
A: It’ll be fun! The community artwork will be displayed and visitors will have the opportunity to add to it, for display at the September Celebration. Art Pop-Up are running free artist-led workshops, there will also be pond dipping, bug hunting, nature treasure hunts etc… all activities are for grownups as well as children!
Q: What’s happening at the Langdfyke Stories celebration and annual meeting event?
A: There will be an exhibition of the artworks created during the residency and Langdyke Stories project, free art workshops As well as talks by a host of eminent speakers.
Q: Tell us a little but about yourself and Art Pop-Up
A: From childhood I have always created and loved exploring different materials and techniques, finding out what they can do – from lace making to silversmithing, sugarcraft to printmaking. I started off as a teacher in Primary then Further education, and eventually realised that although I still loved teaching, I wanted to shift my focus to creating my own artwork – using different materials and techniques to tell the stories that catch my attention and draw me in. Usually my focus is on the small details of nature and the history of places – the people, plants and wildlife. I suppose that’s why being Langdyke’s Artist in Residence resonates so deeply with me. I’ve been a volunteer with the Trust for about 3 years now (I can’t remember exactly), and it’s a delight for me to be able to use my art to share the stories of how precious this area and this organisation are… to have the opportunity to share with other people some of stories about the rich wildlife and heritage that that Langdyke nurtures
Q: Anything else?
A: erm….. not that I can think of …