Set on a high point within Ludwell Valley Park, Exeter, the Angel’s weathered steel reflects the rust-red warmth of the local stone. It serves as a focus and an anchor, helping to tether us and give us a sense of place in an ephemeral and rapidly changing world.
Following the “Star Spangled Kyrangle”, it’s great to see the idea of Community Star Gazing taking off around Exeter.
While I was developing the original proposal for the Working with Gold programme, I came up with many ideas for events and activities. There were too many to be able to do all of them, so instead of losing the ideas I turned them into resources for schools and communities.
The two events of the Star Spangled Kyrangle were opportunities to bring people together, and encourage them to be attentive to their place, surroundings and nature. The night sky holds many myths and stories in its depths. It has spoken to humanity since our earliest times. We too can step outside and look up, and gaze at the beauty of the night sky, and wonder.
Not far from Land’s End, there is a small south-facing bay comprising St Loy’s Cove and Paynter’s Cove. Not many years ago, storms washed up a large chunk of metal onto the top of the beach. Now, it has been resettled to the M5 Services at Junction 30.
“Listening to Silent Spring” is a piece of sound art, based on a listening walk around east Exeter on the 50th anniversary of publication of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. The sounds I noted became the script for the piece. The work is mostly silence, which allows the listener to become aware of their own ambient soundtrack.
“Q is for Quarries” is an A-Z trail that allows people to discover the distinctive Heavitree Stone used to build the red skeleton of Exeter.
I originally created the A-Z trail around Heavitree Stone sites on Placeify. But then I came across TiCL, who were really enthusiastic about adding “Q is for Quarries” to their portfolio of Exeter trails. So now there are two versions!!
Many of the roads on Sowton are named after birds, and there is other evidence of bird life to be found. The Birdman and I hatched a plan for a walk to discover the birds, both real and imaginary, of one of Exeter’s most neglected ecosystems.
The Perseids in August are one of the most prolific meteor showers. They take their name from the constellation Perseus, the point in the sky where they appear to come. So on one Monday in August people gathered together on the Kyrangle in Digby to look up as the skies darkened and the planets and stars appeared.
Today was the day when we launched the Heavitree Quarry Trails on Exeter’s historic Quay! Performances, leaflets of ready-made trails, A-Z trail, umbrella website, and all!
Steven Bramble designed the alphabet. I turned it into the font used on all the Heavitree Quarry Trails outputs. I’ve made it available to download it for your own use too.
When Steven Bramble suggested designing an alphabet of Heavitree Stone, I immediately thought of its potential use in an A-Z. I came across Placeify some years ago, powering Exeter University’s Sculpture Tour, and the two things came together as an idea for a trail.
A small example of how Minecraft can be used to imagine our place, to the extent of forming part of an official Exeter planning meeting!
“See Exeter by Minecraft” is a series of old-style railway posters and a postcard, created for the utterly imaginary St Loyes Tourist Board. A second postcard was created for the equally fictitious St Loyes Education Board, and a very one-off poster for the totally fabricated St Loyes Astrophysics Board.
“Minecraft my home” is an ongoing activity as part of my “Working with Gold” programme of public art in St Loyes. It is a re-creation of St Loyes as a world in the Minecraft game. During Art Week Exeter, I held a meetup to explore the world together, share what we have been creating, and build more stuff.
Art Week Exeter is a go-go! And it turns out that I had a bit more in show than I thought. The main event (for me) is “Minecraft my home”. The Minecraft St Loyes world is available to download and play online, and on Saturday 26 May I’m holding a meetup to share our explorations and creations.
Create giant sculptures in your neighbourhood
Pave the streets with gold
Turn your home into a castle
Subvert urban design: cover it with flowers
Over the last few months, I’ve been collaborating with local artist Steven Bramble on producing an alphabet and font for the Quarry Pod.
“Minecraft my home” is a re-creation of St Loyes as a world in the Minecraft game. The Minecraft world lets residents explore their neighbourhood in a new way and imagine new possibilities for it.
My ‘thoughts looking sidewards’ about travelling the D bus route in Exeter, from the vantage point of my home office.
What three words…? is an online tool that captures in a simple way what places mean to people. It is aimed at encouraging people to pay attention to place. Between January and March 2018, I used it as a way of gathering insights into people’s views of St Loyes as a place to live and/or work.
I haven’t written much about the progress of the Heavitree Squilometre Quarry Pod. It’s been a period of research then consolidation and creative pondering, by turns fascinating, inspiring, and great fun!
Last night I finally met Minecraft, and had my first lesson in moving and building from a 10-year-old.
FALAFELS stands for Free Art Friday Exeter St Loyes Loves Anagrams. You have to think about it a bit!
Pop over and take a look at the new website for “Working with Gold”, or get in touch and get involved with the programme on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @workingwithgold.
In the spirit of sharing the uphill struggles as well as the good times…
One of my undertakings as Artist in Residence with Digby Community Association was to write about my work for the “Digby News”, that is published each November.
I’m delighted that Exeter City Council have agreed to part-fund “Working with Gold”. The money is a Grass Roots Grant, which comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy.
I’ve been having a play, and come up with a logo for “Working with Gold”, and I think a working design. Hope you like it!
Yesterday I had a great meeting with print artist Lynn Bailey, who had come to Kaleider to hear my talk on Working with Gold. She had produced work responding to Mincinglake Valley Park for the dissertation part of her Fine Arts masters.
Twas on the day of the autumn equinox that Diana and I decided to walk the Northbrook from mouth to source.
Further to yesterday’s post about my five-minute talk “Working with gold, weaving with data” at Exeter City Futures, I thought I’d share more of the talk content.
Exeter City Futures’ Connect events are an opportunity to share ideas on the big problems that they believe Exeter needs to solve as it transitions towards becoming energy independent and congestion free. At the Autumn Connect, I presented my developing vision for a programme of art in St Loyes, aimed at nurturing a sense of place and building community.
I’ve been playfully exploring my local area for a number of years, its history, geography, biodiversity, archaeology, and myth – some invented! This Kaleider Lunchtime Talk was a shout-out to anyone with an interest in any aspect of place-based art and/or who lives in St Loyes.
My ideas for an artist’s residency in St Loyes Exeter are gathering momentum. I’m close to putting in my first grant application, and on Friday 28 July Rosie King kindly joined me on a walk around the ward. It’s an area ripe for an artistic response!
In past years they’ve kindly supported my mad-cap safari concerts. Now Digby Community Association, within St Loyes, is another key supporter of “Working with Gold”.
The Heavitree quarries have been voted by the people of Heavitree as the next theme for the Heavitree Squilometre. Of course, the quarries are actually in St Loyes.
For Art Week Exeter, I thought I’d open my newly-painted garage studio up to the world. Complete with kettle and lots of cake. It was a chance to show some of my work since 2014, and to ask for ideas for art in St Loyes.
Along Broadfields Road in St Loyes, the roads are named after English composers and it’s always summer. A goodly number came and joined Sine Nomine in serenading the neighbourhood with the music of each composer on their eponymous street corner.
Three days to the start of Art Week Exeter, 13-21 May 2017, and I’m burning the midnight oil prepping contributions to an installation and an exhibition, one concert, one talk, and two days of open studio. So here’s a nice soothing sunset…
Clare Bryden. Blackberrying for beginners. Resurgence Magazine, Sep/Oct 2013.
Shortlisted essay from the Resurgence & Ecologist Nature Writing Competition.
It happened! Possibly not one of the daftest ideas I’ve had, but must be one of the dafter ideas I’ve pursued.
I have a dream of a mix of local retail, local business, charities and social entrepreneurs, artists’ studios and housing.
Last year, I did the first half of a walk down the 1800s route of Woodwater Lane. I managed the western half as far as the Retail Park, before giving up due to the rain. Exactly one year later, I completed the journey.
I intended to spend the morning re-reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but instead spent the morning reading around it. So after lunch, I allowed the sun to call me out for a walk down by my very own Tinker Creek that is the Northbrook.
Brueggemann: “the yearning for land is always a serious historical enterprise concerned with historical power and belonging. Such a dimension is clearly played upon by the suburban and exurban real estate ads that appeal to that rapacious hunger.”
There’s a rowan tree planted beside the bus stop on Grecian Way, and this autumn it’s laden with bright red berries.
In honour of Silent Spring, I spent two hours wandering around my neighbourhood and listening. Listening not just for birds, but for everything, including all those sounds we usually tune out.
Today was the first time ever, at least for years, that I’ve seen another deliberate blackberrier in Ludwell Valley Park.
It was late afternoon when I walked down to Ludwell Valley Park to pick blackberries. I’d just started, around a kink in the hedge and mostly hidden from the gate, when I heard lads’ voices.
The house martins were gathering and sporting on the wing, prior to departure for warmer climes, and Mark Lane from Wilderness Guide kindly popped over to see what plants we could find in Woodwater Lane in September.
I cycled to the dog-walkers’ field above Ludwell Valley Park. I found blackberries. I picked blackberries. I cycled home. I made blackberry water ice.
Sometimes the mystery and the not-knowing are more satisfying and enjoyable than solution.
I’ve always had a problem with buses. Mythogeography tells me to get on a random bus, and see where it takes me for a set number of stops. But I’m able to end up here there and everywhere, even when I’m just trying to get home.
I was away from Exeter for a couple of weeks, and when I returned (though I returned) I remained absent. It was several days before I remembered it was ‘high summer’ and there was free fruit to be had in Ludwell Valley Park and along the suburban margins.
Much of the stone used to build St Loyes Chapel looks as though it came from Heavitree Quarry, but there were many other types of stone there.
When did the Heavitree quarries stop being worked? The old maps provide some evidence.
Seeing the stone in St Loyes Chapel made me want to walk back up Quarry Lane and look for evidence of the quarry.
It’s a pleasant little segment in Rifford Road, set in a garden surrounded with metal railings. There is a bus-stop in front, and it is very ease to miss St Loyes Chapel altogether if you don’t know it is there.
Once upon a time I saw a very old OS map of Exeter in the Treasures of the British Library exhibition. Now through the miracle of Google, I know that it was the Drawing for the first edition Ordnance Survey map of Exeter. 1801 Maps OSD 40.(3).
I spent a day immured in the office at the computer, feeling wintry-cold while it rained and rained. By night-time, I was completely frowstie at being stuck indoors. As the rain had pretty much dried up, I decided on some mythogeography. Going for walks at odd times, like 10.30pm, follows mythogeographical principles, after all.
I found this marvellous book from 1892 in the Westcountry Studies Library, now Devon Archives and Local Studies.
As a birthday treat, I promised myself a walk down Woodwater Lane, from home to water to wood to home again. A satisfying experimentation in exploring the present day.
Yesterday, cycling down a section of Woodwater Lane, I noticed a corn cockle in the bank. It struck me that I have cycled down the lane many a time, walked down it occasionally, picked blackberries at that time of year, but I have never really paid attention to it.
It was a happy accident that the house I bought when I moved to Exeter is very close to Ludwell Valley Park. It is my slice of countryside in the city, where I can wander down enclosed lanes, through fields of nodding purple grasses.
My vision: Through an programme of public art in its broadest sense to nurture a sense of place among St Loyes residents and workers, and build community.