In 2020 Chrysalis Arts began to evolve a new programme of Slow Art called Five Hectares. The programme was designed to explore ways of engaging deeply with nature, climate, place and sustainability over an extended period.
As part of Five Hectares, we ran a pilot project during 2021–22 which aimed to help people enjoy greater connections with the natural world as we emerged from lockdown. Over the period, we worked with schools and communities in the area around Gargrave where we’re based, developing a combination of in-person and online creative activities. We also collaborated with ecologists Mark Hewitt and Fran Graham and three professional artists, Alice Fox, David Haley and Alun Kirby. We hoped that, by working together as a group, we would be able to evolve new approaches and ways of working that would inform and enrich the environmental content of our future programmes.
Through this process, we developed the idea of creating an Environmental Atlas of the area. We invited people to contribute their own artworks and reflections on the aspects of place that matter to them and also to take part in a range of workshops, walks and conversations.
In our Mapping in Stitch workshops led by Textile Artist Carolann Allan, participants chose a place and learned how to represent it through embroidery. Following the years of lockdown, meeting for in person creative workshops felt like a positive step forward. Something our workshop participants echoed in their feedback. ‘I’m very grateful to Chrysalis Arts and to Arts Council England for making this workshop available. I found it so uplifting after a difficult few years to spend time with such an inspiring group of women’ said one Mapping in Stitch workshop participant.
The Atlas incorporates a variety of art types: poetry, photography, maps, textiles, painting and drawing created by local people, with additional individual contributions from the three artists. It has been beautifully brought together and bound by Alice Fox.
‘I’ve really enjoyed being involved in both the development and the delivery of various aspects of the Five Hectares project. Looking at a wide range of issues and possibilities and exploring ways of focusing on aspects of these was an organic process. Being able to work with local school children, to help them see and record their ‘place’ in new ways was very rewarding. And then to widen that participation out to include creative responses from others was great, finally bring together those responses into a physical object, a sculptural book that holds these artworks and forms the Five Hectares ‘atlas’ feels a fitting point for the project to have reached’ says Alice Fox.
The project and Atlas focuses on the area within the river catchment which includes Gargrave, Malhamdale and parts of Wharfedale. The spine of the Atlas represents the river, and mirrors the spine of the books created by local school children as a part of the project.
A special thanks to the artist and community members who contributed to the Atlas: Alun Kirby, Alice Fox, David Haley, Wendy Milner, Robin Hargreaves, Liz Holmes, Bev Parker, Valerie Todd, Gill Petrucci, Clare Lamkin, Brian Burton, Glenys Riley.
Where to see the Atlas
The Five Hectares Environmental Atlas will be travelling to local libraries in the area Spring–Summer 2022, as well as for a small gathering at The Art Depot in Gargrave in June.
If you'd like to view the artworks from the Atlas, you can take a look at our digital version of the Atlas here.
Five Hectares is funded by Arts Council England, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Chrysalis Arts Development.