On Saturday 12 May at Whitlingham Country Park from 10:00am to 2:00pm Broads Authority volunteers will be showcasing the skills they have learnt to enhance the Park with the help of local charity Withy Arts.
The project began in May 2017 when the volunteers who support the work of the Whitlingham Charitable Trust were invited to share their own wider visions for maintaining the park and engaging with their estimated 500,000 visitors. The volunteers, who are all local, based at a maximum of three miles from the park, opted to learn the art of willow weaving. It was thought that the weaving could be used to serve multiple functions within the park, from making hurdles for the park to teaching the public to create simple pieces of art when they visit the popular site.
The project was run by the charity Withy Arts who champion ‘self-expression through creativity’. Using a National Lottery funded grant, they offered Broads Authority volunteers a scheme of ten day-long sessions to learn to harness this sustainable resource. The first session saw the cutting of the willow crop from Repps Meadow in the Broads National Park followed by lessons on preparing the willow and then working it.
Having learnt their new skills and successfully enhanced the park with their creations the volunteers are now ready to present their skills to the general public and give visitors to Whitlingham the opportunity to have a go at some willow weaving themselves.
On Saturday 12 May the volunteers will be showcasing their weaving skills, offering demonstrations on round work and hurdle making. For visitors who feel inspired by their work there is the chance to contribute to a community sculpture by adding to ‘willow balls’ which will become pieces of modern art stationed around different areas of the park.
The use of willow is a sustainable biodegradable alternative to other materials which could be used in the park and it is hoped that the sight of willow weaving around the site will bring joy to the many visitors who enjoy Whitlingham Country Park every day.
The project will conclude with a reflection day, following the willow event on Saturday, where volunteers can reinforce their learning through reflection by sharing their experiences and discussing their ideas.
Beth Williams, Volunteer Coordinator for the Broads Authority said of the project,
“This wonderful willow initiative has had a really positive impact on our volunteers, giving them greater levels of confidence when engaging with the public and empowering them with a new and useful skill. Clare and Sarah from Withy Arts have been amazing teachers and have really inspired us all. The willow creations will be an asset to Whitlingham but the project has also been a way of inspiring the volunteers who play such an indispensable role in helping us look after the Broads National Park. ”
Wednesday 2 May 2018