I am very excited to be able to share that I have been successful in applying to Arts Council England for funding to run Ash Tree Stream, an art and outdoor learning project, in partnership with Andover Trees United, CAS (Chapel Arts Studios) and five schools in the Andover area:
- Andover Church of England Primary School
- Appleshaw St Peters Primary School
- Harrow Way Community School (Secondary)
- Portway Junior School
- Vernham Dean Gillum’s Church of England Primary School
Ash Tree Stream will provide an opportunity for children to meet and learn about the work of a professional artist, many of them for the first time. I will support the children to develop new artistic skills through documenting their experiences of Ash Trees and their place in their local heritage (Andover is thought to get its name from ‘‘on dubr’ meaning Ash Tree Stream).
The year-long project will enable children and staff to use visual arts processes to learn about Ash trees and Ash dieback disease, outside of the classroom, and within the context of local cultural heritage and climate change.
New artwork by myself and the children, along with project documentation, will be shared with the wider school community and the public, through an exhibition at the CAS exhibition space in central Andover in Summer 2020.
Together with Andover Trees United Education Officer Becky McGugan, I will be working to support teachers to explore the value of art within outdoor learning, as a way of enabling learning through the whole person – their body, emotions and imagination, as well as intellect.
School partners have already committed to working with ATU on a four-year ‘One Ash, One Oak’ project, following the journey of an Ash and an Oak tree, as they are felled and their wood used by craftspeople, smokeries etc. Ash Tree Stream will act as a pilot, and through its evaluation, provide a case for embedding an artist’s residency across the full four-years of One Ash, One Oak.
After declaring a climate and ecological emergency earlier this year, and taking part in a recent National Assembly with Culture Declares Emergency, I’m keen to use my work as an artist to promote awareness of the crises that we face, and what each of us can do about it.
This funding will enable me to develop a new body of work through my own research into Ash trees and Ash Die-Back, and ways of working with schools/communities and their local trees that can be applied to other towns. This comes at a time when an appreciation of the need for and value of trees within our communities is increasing in the face of climate and ecological breakdown.
Now I’ve received the good news I can starting meeting with project partners and carrying out site visits, and further research into Ash Trees in general and their place within the heritage and ecology of Andover.
Please do come back and follow my progress on here, and keep in touch on social media by searching for the #AshTreeStream hashtag.