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 and 2022 which aimed to help people enjoy greater connections with the natural world as we emerged from lockdown. 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.
It's been a wonderful project to be part of.
Alun Kirby, Artist
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. The Atlas incorporates poetry, photography, maps, textiles, painting and drawing created by local people, with additional individual contributions from the three artists, and has been beautifully brought together and bound by Alice Fox. It focuses on the area within the river catchment which includes Gargrave, Malhamdale and parts of Wharfedale, and encompasses some of the themes which we explored as a group as well as drawing upon our visits to Malham Tarn, Hill Top Farm, Malham, Littondale and NorthYorkshire County Record Office. We have also developed a digital version of the Atlas which can be accessed here.
The Five Hectares Atlas will be travelling to local libraries in the area Spring 2022, as well as for a small gathering at The Art Depot in Gargrave.
Atlas Contributors: Alun Kirby, Alice Fox, David Haley, Wendy Milner, Robin Hargreaves, Liz Holmes, Bev Parker, Valerie Todd, Gill Petrucci, Clare Lamkin, Brian Burton, Glenys Riley. Thank you to all who helped create the Atlas.
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.
Alice Fox, Artist & Atlas Bookmaker
Connecting the map to the place was important, but I had not appreciated, when I started, how the process of map making would emerge as a complex poetic narrative of nature and culture. Discovering ‘sinkholes’ was like Alice following the rabbit into another dimension. I learned so much and will continue to explore mapping as storying.
David Haley, Artist & CAD Board Member
I’m very grateful to Chrysalis Arts and to ArtsCouncil 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. Alice is a super teacher and I have already shared some of the things I learned with my family.
Five Hectares Workshop Participant
Alongside the Atlas, Gargrave and Burnsall Primary Schools produced their own books, which brought together the artworks created via the workshop programme, working with Alun Kirby, Mark Hewitt and Alice Fox. This work was further developed via animation workshops with Virpi Kettu.
Thank you so much for this. Everything that we have been sent has been fantastic and the children are loving being part of the project particularly the work with Alun. We have had a go at the leaf printing but not tried the solar dying yet but hoping to do that next week. Thank you for all your work with this and allowing us to be part of the project.
Wendy, Class Teacher at Burnsall Primary School
As an additional outcome of the project, we developed an Art and Nature Activity Pack, which drew upon some of the project ideas and content, and which is being distributed to schools and via North Yorkshire Libraries.
Five Hectares has been an important project for Chrysalis in demonstrating how we can enrich the content of our participatory work and highlighting the value of co-learning as part of the project development process. It has directly influenced the ways in which we will work with artists, partners and communities in the future. A further strand of Five Hectares has been the early development of our Marton Wood project.
Five Hectares is funded by Arts Council England, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Chrysalis Arts Development.