I was born in Thornbury and as a child explored the fields, lanes and river bank that make up the Lower Severn Levels. This landscape has inspired me in my own creative works and I love the ever-changing colours, textures and light of the estuary and adjacent land. By the time I joined the project it was in full flow. Deborah Aguirre-Jones, the project’s artist in residence, had run many art workshops with local groups, inspiring them to create ideas for permanent art works for the area. I have been involved in assisting at some of these. Setting up resources, making tea, cutting cake, joining in art activities which have arisen from Deborah’s question ‘Explain yourself’.
As well as the community involvement I have also been assisting Deborah in her studio. The permanent artworks that have evolved from the workshops are to be a series of cast iron benches and three carved stone sculptures. To make the cast iron benches, they first have to be made in clay to provide a form to be cast from. I’ve worked on the clay forms for the two designs, one is relating to the levels, with apple trees, an owl and a water vole; the other relates to the industrial areas with a tug boat, an anchor, rope, a wind turbine and Godwits in flight.
For the stone carvings, I’ve assisted Deborah by drawing some of the 20 designs for the public vote and creating one of three final design maquettes in clay. Soon we will start to carve the stone, something I’ve never done but will have a chance to learn.
I have enjoyed my volunteering immensely and the experiences it has given are a huge benefit to me and my own arts practice. I’m so grateful to A Forgotten Landscape, Deborah, the team at South Glos’ and the participants from the area.