We’re delighted to announce that Chrysalis Arts has recently agreed a 10-year lease with North Yorkshire County Council for Marton Wood, a 6.6 hectare woodland near Boroughbridge and the village of Marton-cum-Grafton.
Prior to the pandemic, we had been developing ideas for an extended Slow Art project which offers communities and artists new ways to engage more deeply with nature, climate and sustainability. These have evolved over the past two years as many people have gained an increasing awareness of the value of our natural resources and their importance to future well-being.
We aim to work collaboratively with the wood and with others to secure its long-term management, future and legacy. We are working with artists, ecologists, scientists and environmentalists, alongside a range of local and other communities, to conserve, protect and regenerate the wood as a resource and source of inspiration for creative practice. Throughout this process, we aim to learn new skills, aid the development of artistic practice, work collaboratively with other disciplines and nature itself, and enable the passing on of skills and knowledge to others.
We do not intend to site artwork in the wood or use it for materials for artworks that will be sited elsewhere, rather use it as a resource for research that can initiate ideas and projects based on nature and environment, and for data that can be recorded and used as materials within artwork or as the artwork itself, for example, photographs, sound and video recordings and statistical data.
We aim to develop new approaches to:
• community and artists’ engagement with nature, climate, place, health and wellbeing
• the development of green artists’ practice
• creating opportunities for artists, environmentalists and specialists in other fields to collaborate in ways that extend the quality, impact and reach of their work.
Our work with the wood will be ongoing, and the programme we provide will develop over time and be informed by the changing environment, and in consultation with the collaborators and communities, we work with. For artists, it may involve activities such as ongoing collaborative mapping projects that develop over several months or years, opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations and research and/or micro residencies. Alongside these activities, regular seasonal discussions and talks will be planned.
To date, we’ve held several walks and discussions that have acted as a catalyst to explore and record the biodiversity of the wood and will help to inform our future programme of activities.
About the Wood
The wood is one of several small parcels of woodland within the immediate and wider landscape and is believed to have been planted approximately 50 years ago, with oak and beech being the dominant tree species. The beech woodland area is divided from the wider woodland by a ditch, which is dry during spring and summer months, and a watercourse enters from the east, working its way to the west of the wood. The surrounding landscape is dominated by predominately arable agriculture.
The wood holds an abundance of different species of flora and fauna including: English Oak, Beech, Ash, Hawthorn, Elder, Wych Elm, Sycamore, Grey Willow, Rowan, Wild Cherry, Honeysuckle, Raspberry, Bramble, Hedge Woundwort, Nettle, Wood Avens, Ivy, Herb Robert, Enchanters Nightshade, Bluebell, Lady Fern, Rosebay Willowherb, Cleavers, Speedwell, Hard Rush, Foxglove, Red Campion, Nipplewort, Garlic Mustard, Cow Parsley, Lesser Celandine, Deer, Hare, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Robin, Buzzard, in addition to many insects and fungi.
Register your Interest
If you feel your practice fits with our approach and aims for the wood, you can register your interest to get involved by emailing us at email@example.com
Halfway into 2023, we've been continuing to develop the Marton Wood project.
In February, we invited Marton cum Grafton residents to a free drop-in creative session. Held at the local Memorial Hall, we offered two different creative workshops on the day. Both activities were suitable for all ages. The workshops were run by Sue Harrison and Laney Birkhead, two artists who are exploring Marton Wood in their practices. Sue Harrison ran a felt-making workshop. Using the wet felting technique, attendees were invited to make ‘pockets’ from natural fleece, trapping woodland materials within the layers. Participants could quickly make a pocket, or spend more time adding embellishments and cords. Laney Birkhead ran a print-making workshop. Participants began with an introduction to the phenomenon of Canopy or Crown Shyness – where the branches of the trees do not touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps. They were then invited to trace a section of the tree canopy onto a template, carve it out, and print the tree section onto a collaborative canopy.
This Spring and Summer we've been continuing to run workshops in the local primary school. In Spring, Artist Laney Birkhead and Artist Sue Harrison each ran workshops in the school and the community similar to their Memorial Hall workshops.
The finished collaborative artworks, both the feltwork and the canopy print were displayed at the Open Gardens event in June 2023.
Our Summer workshops at the school have been led by Rosie Barrett. Run in Marton Wood, she has led botanical drawing workshops, bringing together mindfulness, creativity and nature. These are the final workshops in our initial year-long pilot programme.
Please explore the Marton Wood Journal below to learn more about what's been happening...