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Site specific work

Last Autumn I went up to London to one of the first Extinction Rebellion actions. We gathered on Westminster Bridge and listened to people from all over the world, telling us how climate change had already affected their countries.

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XR on Westminster Bridge, 17.11.2018

I resolved then and there to do what I could, with the resources I have, to help make a change in our thinking and actions. What I have, is a truly beautiful space in Somerset, with a one-acre field on which we planted many trees over 30 years ago. Included amongst them is a Celtic Tree Circle: a planting of 13 native trees, planted in 1985 by a group of people attending an Earth Mysteries weekend in Glastonbury.

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Dove Meadow looking towards the Tree Circle, 2018

I had been part of that group but had left the gathering on the Saturday, being more interested in doing than talking about it. I announced that I had land where I intended to plant a Circle of Trees, following Robert Graves’ ideas in ‘The White Goddess’, and did anyone want to come with me? One person did, and she and I spent the rest of the day marking out the circle. Come Sunday morning, and we were wondering how and where to start, when a succession of cars rolled down the drive. The entire Earth Mysteries group had voted to come and plant trees! So we did, and formed groups to plant our ‘birth’ tree (each tree represents a lunar cycle of 28 days, hence 13 trees). By the end of the day the Dove Tree Circle had come into being, born of collective action.

Now, in 2019, the trees have joined up to form a circle. I started thinking: what can these trees tell us? How can we learn from them? My tried and tested way to proceed is to involve the arts in creating an irresistible event. I had a small but adequate pot of funding and decided to commission a series of poems that the trees would speak at a ‘conference’ which the human audience would attend. I asked poet Ama Bolton to do this, and she responded with a  hauntingly beautiful work called ‘A Conference of Trees’.

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Ama Bolton relaxing in the Tree House stewards’ tent before the reading of her poems

Maya Love, musician and singer extraordinaire, contributed musical ideas, and I found 13 people to read a tree each. So on 28th September, we met to rehearse and perform this piece as part of the Dove Studios Open Evening.

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Rehearsal of ‘A Conference of Trees’ (photo: Deborah Weinreb)

The weather, which had been rather nice until then, broke on the dot of the start of our rehearsal, so rather than performing in the actual tree circle as planned, we gathered under the trees in the tree house corner, and the audience gathered under umbrellas with us, and we went for it. It was dark by the time we finished, and our scripts were dissolving, but we made it, and our lovely audience stayed with us.

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Maya Love, singing the trees (photo: Sandie Roche)

And afterwards it was off to the studio to dry off and make pizzas, surrounded by art, which were then cooked outside in the rain by Paul Stubbs:Pizzas for blog 2

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The poems had ended with a cry of ‘It’s time to plant trees!’, and so it is: an ongoing tree planting programme is planned for Wild Lea, the field next to the Dove Meadow that 7 people living around it, myself included, bought for wilding 4 years ago. And now it’s time to plant a lot of them, possibly with your, the reader’s, help, as we are putting out a call for participation in the form of funds and/or actual help with planting. Collective action, as with the Tree Circle. It works! One for all, and all for one, as the trees say in Ama’s poem.

Leave a comment below, or message me in Facebook if you are interested in being part of this exciting venture: and I’ll get back to you.

 

Bron Bradshaw

for Dove Arts

 

 

‘Start by not knowing’, the Dove Arts artists’ residency in June, turned into ‘SixUnravel’ for the presentation of our work. Here is some of it.

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Bird Masks by Sophie Willoughby and modelled by the public

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Shannon Leah Watson’s workshop ‘Can you teach me how to knit’ – dishcloths made from torn up charity shop pillowcases (Sue Palmer’s video on the screen)

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Kathryn John’s signpost, which bemuses the dog walkers that come through on the footpath,

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Fiona Hingston’s ‘Wigwork’; on the left as featured in Sue Palmer’s video, and right, modeled by one of the knitters….

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Sue Palmer’s video ‘Who is this, who is coming?’

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and Bron Bradshaw’s Tree Guardian.

Also on the meadow: the extraordinary Treehouse Library, finished in the nick of time,  with its display of specially commissioned books

 

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Welcome to Amazing Space III, the third Biennial Arts and Crafts event at Dove Studios. There’s a great deal to see: in the studios there is work by Mike Dodd (pottery), Sandie Roche (handwoven textiles), Diana Milstein (painting, and a moving image painting), and Robin Frood (Mokuhanga prints). Outside, on the meadow, Bronwen Bradshaw, Fiona Hingston, Kathryn John, Sue Palmer, Shannon Leah Watson and Sophie Willoughby display some of the work that resulted from their collaborative residency earlier in the year. And – at last! the Tree House Library is up and running, housing 25 artists’ books that celebrate this small but happening corner of Somerset.

Come to our Open Evening on 28th September, 5 – 8 pm, with a performance in the Tree Circle of Ama Bolton’s collection of poems ‘A Conference of Trees’ and music by Maya Love and Bron Bradshaw. After the performance Paul Stubbs will fire up his pizza oven, and drinks will be available. Parking this evening will be on the adjacent field ‘Wild Lea’; watch out for signs to the entrance in Barton Road. Also, bring a folding chair if you need one for the performance, which takes around 30 – 40 minutes, and a torch to help you find your way home!

Workshops and events: Shannon will be in the Door House on the meadow on Sunday 22nd September and Saturday 5th October with her drop in workshop ‘Can you teach me how to knit?’ The last weekend of SAW will see an ongoing workshop in the meadow: ‘Draw the Trees’, with all materials provided.

We hope to see you here!Dove Meadow September 2019

 

 

 

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On Wednesday 5th June, 6 artists started a week’s residency at the Dove. They are Fiona Hingston, Kathryn John, Sue Palmer, Shannon Leah Watson, Sophie Willoughby, and host/instigator Bronwen Bradshaw. The idea is to spend time together to create site specific work for the Dove meadow, to be show during SAW ’19 this Autumn. Collaboration is our aim, and that extends to making lunch – here we all are.

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And here Sue is displaying the ‘theme’ for Wednesday morning. Though we are supposed to Start by not Knowing, so had to be reminded by a biscuit tin that it was indeed Wednesday morning.

 

After quite a bit of talking and then walking round the site, we made a start and got to work. Including the bumble bees: Bombus hypnorum, who have a nest in the Door House verandah, and provide a companionable background buzz to our activities there.

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The Door House is our meeting place, library and cafe. It’s been a lovely comfortable space for inspiring and  revealing discussions, including help, ideas and support for each other.

Day Two: a beautiful day which Sue and Kathryn kicked off with some meditative activities, followed by most people spending time outside.

 

Day Three felt like we were starting to get into our stride. We were mostly in the studio as the weather wasn’t so good. Shannon came back from a day’s absence during which she had taught herself to knit dishcloths. She has a plan involving dishcloths – more on this later.

 

And day four, today, is a home day of rest and reflection. Everyone comes back tomorrow for the final two days. This project has been so enjoyable and challenging that I can’t wait. Watch this space.