Our Mini-Crusades into Projects and Events with Our Partners

The entry into mosaic-making at Mepal Outdoor Centre: Sourced by Nathan Jones
The entry into mosaic-making at Mepal Outdoor Centre. Source: Nathan Jones

Myself and Abby involved and enjoyed ourselves with a couple of events lately – the Community Murals Project at Mepal last Thursday and the RSPB “Your local home for Nature” event at Fen Drayton on the Sunday. We went on behalf of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership team wearing our OWLP T-shirts to support the project and our partners. logos

I helped out with creating the clouds in the mural, which was becoming a fantastic piece. It began to stunningly show the landscape and its wildlife in a large mosaic of beautiful flakes, jewel-like pieces and many colours. From its half-completion upon our entry at Mepal Outdoor Centre, it was quickly getting pulled together during the afternoon we were there, and I couldn’t wait to see the finished product! Few mothers and their children were hard at work being creative with glue, cutters and boxes of mosaics. We filled in the pictures drawn onto the marine plywood base and talked about the work in progress under the attentive guidance of artist Carolyn Ash. Several people came and went to admire or help out, and Abby took photographs, a video, notes and interviews to evaluate the event. They expressed positive enthusiasm and fun in the activity that brought out more understanding and appreciation of the landscape we are promoting.

In the process of the creation and evaluation of the mural and the workshop at Mepal. Sourced by Lizzie Bannister

In the process of the creation and evaluation of the mural and the workshop at Mepal. Source: Lizzie Bannister

We were back into our T-shirts the following weekend as part of the RSPB open day event at Fen Drayton.  I have often sped past on the Guided Busway, so it was great to be able to be on site for a change. We offered tasters of Ouse Washes Honey produced by Robert Taylor from Manea, and our mug game with Ouse Washes messages and jelly worms. We gave out promotional postcards with our contact details and website address under our banners and with the Heritage Lottery Fund posters. We explained and engaged people into our OWLP scheme, including about the Community Heritage Fund. We served tea, involved children to draw ideas they have about the Ouse Washes landscape and I stuck on alot of our OWLP stickers!

An example of work we got the people involved - to draw on postcards for the next murals event

An example of work we got the people involved – to draw on postcards for the next two murals event (this example was drawn at Mepal, the first mural event). Source: Nathan Jones

I also helped out the RSPB by making dragonflies with children and met some lovely RSPB people at this small event. I would be glad to come back again and explore more of Fen Drayton and build up my experience promoting OWLP at future public events.

Great artwork for us at our RSPB Fen Drayton open day stand! Sourced by Abby Stancliffe-Vaughan

Great artwork for us at our RSPB Fen Drayton open day stand! See the lovely dragonflies on the table too… Source: Abby Stancliffe-Vaughan

See the next event the OWLP team will be at, which is Haddenham Steam Rally on the 6th September!

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Get into Mosaic-making this Bank Holiday Monday!

logosThe Ouse Washes Community Murals Project starts at Mepal on Bank Holiday Monday! Mepal is the first of the three places in our special, but little-known, area of East Anglia which stretches from Downham Market to St Ives that will have outdoor murals made by you and others in the communities from across the landscape! For free! You can freely come to these crafty workshops whenever and for however long you want all the week until end of Friday 29th August, and the workshop is held for one more day on the following Monday the 1st September. Anyone can have a go regardless of age and ability at creating these wonderful outdoors art features.

Carolyn Ash and a great outdoor murals - sourced from Ely Standard 24 - http://www.elystandard.co.uk/what-s-on/arts/learn_how_to_put_together_a_mosaic_at_unique_workshop_1_3734029?usurv=skip

Carolyn Ash and a great outdoor murals – sourced from Ely Standard 24

Denver and Welney are the other two places and workshops will be held at these places for their murals later in September then October. It was all made possible by a Heritage Lottery Grant successfully applied to by ADeC under the Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens Landscape Partnership Scheme. The murals were commissioned to become a permanent and pretty landscape feature the local people can be proud of because of their involvement in the workshops of the project. The scheme was set up to raise awareness and encourage greater local engagement with the landscape of the Ouse Washes to celebrate and highlight it and its value. Your ideas are also needed – we will give you postcards at the three locations where you can write down what makes the landscape special to you for the designs.

Carolyn Ash with a fabulous example - sourced by Jono Jarvis

Carolyn Ash with a fabulous example – sourced by Jono Jarvis

It will be led by talented artist Carolyn Ash, who will guide you through all aspects of this popular activity – it is the fun, creative and original thing to do for the whole family and to do with friends! As promoted in the Ely Standard24, on the Thursday and Friday between 10am-3.30pm, Carolyn will transform the resulting mosaic into a large outdoor mural.

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A Walk On The Wash Side

We (Myself, Jono and Abby) took ourselves out for a few hours to see (and lunch at!) a major reserve, WWT Welney Reserve, that is within the OWLP area and on the Ouse Washes to experience part of what we are promoting…

We were not disappointed! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It is a direct experience on the washes itself that is only possible during the summer because in the winter it is flooded and flocked with birds.

LogosWe hadn’t even got out of the car park – with its good samples of their wetland wilderness – before we coincidently bumped into and chatted to Carolyn Ash, who is one of the artists working on the Ouse Community Murals Project as part of the OWLP scheme, and Carolyn was also with a colleague from Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire which is a key partner in the Partnership. We were also lucky to see a beautiful example of Carolyn’s large damselfly mural. After crossing a sustainably-made bridge and pond, we entered the airy building that afforded fantastic views of the landscape beyond and met a few of the friendly WWT staff team.

Carolyn Ash is working on the Ouse Community Murals Project

Carolyn Ash is working on the Ouse Community Murals Project

As we crossed the large foot-bridge we saw the introductory interpretation for children. There were sizable hides – one barer and more serious and the other family-friendly and informative with fun displays and colourful artwork. The landscape was filled with bodies of water, wildflower and greenery, and featured various species of wading birds and cattle in the distance. The lake itself had interesting banks, and trees dotted the scenery, so the diversity on the land under the large Fenland sky is immense.

As the Welney website says: “Immerse yourself in pathways of wildflowers at the heart of the washes, leaving the stresses of daily life behind. We followed the “Summer walk” route.

As the Welney website says: “Immerse yourself in pathways of wildflowers at the heart of the washes, leaving the stresses of daily life behind.
We followed the “Summer walk” route. Source:  https://ousewasheslps.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/wwtwelneymap.pdf

 

You can download a pdf copy of the Welney map here: WWTWelneyMap

We ventured out on the tracks – the wilderness of medium to tall vegetation and trees surrounded us for the first part. We came across several features of interest – a few tiny, combat-like hides, a vegetation-rich dragonfly pond area (with a table and seating), a popular and well-equipped pond dipping platform, a bird-ringing net structure and sticks with woven ends holding useful information.

It was Charlock!

Wildflowers such as Charlock and Purple Loosestrife were spotted, and the verge was varied into patches of Nettles and Reed. The path soon became a grassy drove populated with Silverweed and an occasional Forget-Me-Not and continued. Great blocks of different species like Reeds dominated our scenery, which was peppered with other species like Water Mint and Meadow Sweet. Butterflies like Gatekeeper

Sunbathing on a leaf

Gatekeeper sunbathing on a leaf

and Red Admiral fluttered past and rested, a possible grass snake slithered past, evidence of mammal browsing persisted and a dragonfly couple mated as we walked and talked.

Love in the air!

Love in the air!

The Summer Walk we took wiggled onto dense, enclosing surroundings that consisted of Reeds, some Sedge and a patch of scrub where a bench is, and the immediate landscape variegated into tall vegetation, water and trees. We reached the loop at the end of the walk, saw the wilderness beyond and around then strolled back as we discussed our work and other things, we took the opportunity to sit in a hide and then on our return to the centre, browsed in the shop which held a wide range of wildlife-related merchandise.

We reluctantly left the centre glorying under a hot sun, having seen a handful of other visitors whilst we were there, and returned to the office more knowledgeable and enthused about our work.

Goodbye lovely wildflowers

Goodbye lovely wildflowers