During the first two weekends in September at the Woodland Centre in Yarner Wood, five extraordinary female artists (Sally Anderson, Bridget Arnold, Clare Benson, Marilyn Murch and Cheryl Watson) from the local Granite Elements project, came together to create artworks around this year’s Heritage Open Days theme of ‘Extraordinary Women’. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with Devon Open Studios and the artists used Sun Print (Cyanotype) photographer Anna Atkins and Devon weaver Ethel Mairet, as their primary inspiration.
Granite Elements was formed as part of the Moor than meets the eye Parishscapes Funded project to explore the Granite Tramway around Bovey Tracey. These local artists have been responding to findings from research into how Bovey’s granite heritage shaped lives in the local community. The open days were a great chance for the artists to meet people outside of the studio and share their work.
Over 400 people, most visiting Yarner Wood for the first time, came to see the fascinating displays accompanying the talented artwork. Visitors were encouraged to have a go at the free workshop creating their own Sun Print photograph with Bridget Arnold, using specially treated paper and their own plants collected from the wood to make a striking image to take home.
Delicious homemade cakes, including some gluten free options were available for anyone feeling peckish, with lots of visitors also deciding to take a stroll around and explore the woods as part of their day. The exhibition was a fantastic opportunity to see unique resources, such as dye and wool sample books handmade by Clare Benson’s mother as well as her own natural dye sample collections. It was a great chance for children and adults alike to see first-hand how nature and art can come together to give a sense of place and inspire creativity, using images from nature as well as actual plants and lichen in botanical dyes and various other crafts.
Follow up workshops are planned on and off the reserve, spreading the connection between nature and art.
These open weekends were part of an ongoing series of events at East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve, with the next coming up tomorrow; the popular annual Lantern walk through the enchanting Pullabrook Wood. A magical night of wild stories, fiery music and candlelight! Tickets are available here.
To find out more about the Granite Elements project and artists http://graniteelements.blogspot.com/
To follow the Granite Elements Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/graniteelements/
Photos and words by Jenny Porrett, Communications Volunteer for MTMTE