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5 November 2014


Earlier this week I was invited to North Curry Primary School to photograph the workshop being run by artist Sarah Butterworth from Emerald Ant. If you visited the Somerset Craft Centre during the recent Open Studios you may have caught a glimpse of Sarah sculpting two large scale cranes from willow and paper; others of you may have been even more hands on and joined the willow making workshops that took place.

Sarah has also been working with pupils from Stoke St Gregory and Heathfield School and from the organised chaos of willow, tissue and copious amounts of glue, some amazing sculptural forms have emerged under her creative tutelage. There certainly was a lot of glue which prompted me to borrow one of the school 'art shirts' - note to self for future photographing of workshops, wear less floaty clothes!

It was great fun watching the children as they transformed straight lengths of willow into dragonflies; working individually or together when not quite sure how to handle the new materials. Some were hindered by their big Dad sized art shirts and cuffs getting in the way - don't you just remember that frustration when you were a child!

The children didn't quite manage to finish the dragonflies on the day, they still need wings attaching and general finishing off, so we need volunteers to help out at Stoke St Gregory on Wednesday 19th November. Contact the SAW Office if you would like to help out - bring your art shirt!

The two large Crane sculptures took their initial test flight under end of Summer blue skies. However the clocks have now changed and the evenings are far darker - which is just perfect, as all the sculptures created by Sarah, the school children and volunteers require the night sky to reveal their true glowing potential as illuminated lanterns.

The children will be processing and dancing with their willow sculptures on Saturday 22 November at 4.30pm at the Willows and Wetlands Visitor Centre in Stoke St Gregory.

The event is to mark the 5th Anniversary of The Great Crane Project - a conservation programme that aims to reintroduce Common Cranes onto the Somerset Levels. An iconic bird, the crane has featured in art throughout the centuries and yet has been missing from our landscape for the past 400 years - until now, hence a reason to celebrate!

Working collaboratively with The Great Crane Project, Somerset Art Works has been delivering creative workshops within the community; connecting them to and raising the awareness of this ambitious conservation project that was taking place right on their doorstep.

Throughout the five year partnership the diverse artistic projects have created quite a buzz amongst the many participants, and the community has embraced this characterful bird back into their lives, all wishing to witness the first pair that will breed and go on to successfully raise their young.

During the afternoon you will also be able to view work from an earlier project led by artist Melanie Tomlinson with pupils from Huish Episcopi Acadamy who together created colourful dioramas depicting the Common Cranes that are at the centre of the day's celebrations.

Admission is free and the afternoon promises many attractions for all ages to share and enjoy as the procession is part of the Willows and Wetlands' annual Christmas Craft & Food Fayre which runs from 2 - 5.30pm.

And of course for a procession to be truly celebratory and uplifting you need music and this is to be provided by The Big Noise Street Band and Stoke St Gregory School Band.

I am looking forward to seeing all the willow sculptures and children being brought together for this wonderful celebration - see you there!

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