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Beauty & Utility at Avon Meadows

11th January 2021

Meadow Arts has commissioned three Creative Practitioners from our network to create a series of projects that engage with the community, reflect the seasons and capture the changing environmental conditions and biodiversity of Avon Meadows floodplain in Pershore. The project is a new partnership with the Floodplain Meadows Partnership hosted by the Open University School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, and will run throughout the seasons of 2020-21. The artworks are intended to be a love letter to the site and the wider notions of beauty and utility associated with the ancient use of floodplain meadows in managing flood water, providing sustainable land management and community benefit.

A view of marsh and grassland

The first artist to work at the site over the winter period is Andrew Howe, who plans to teach people how to to create their own paper from reeds and other plant materials, in online workshops during the winter lockdown. Andrew will create a sculptural installation that reflects how the flood plain reduces the peak level of flooding by allowing river waters to spread across the meadow. In spring 2021, Melanie Woodhead will lead a photography-based project and Kate Raggett will help local groups to create land art next summer, when we hope to bring everyone together to celebrate.

Andrew writes a regular blog and we wanted to share an excerpt from it about starting the Beauty & Utility project last month, which is accompanied by lots of lovely images. He writes, “I’m thrilled to be one of three creative practitioners commissioned by Meadow Arts to make an artwork and to work with community groups and or schools responding to the seasons and changing environment at Avon Meadows in Pershore.”

 

A plant with spiked burrs stands out against a rust and blue background

He continues, “Historically, floodplains have been significant for food production provision of hay for feeding animals n winter and as grazing for animals. They are highly fertile due to being nourished by river silts during seasonal floods. And by managing the floodplains, the meadows evolve into wildflower grasslands. The wetlands are also important sites for birds, amphibians, and other wildlife. It is this combination of beauty and utility that is an overall theme for the art project.

There is an excellent website about the site run by the Friends of Avon Meadows, a charity who support the management of the Meadows, which are owned by Pershore Town Council and Wychavon District Council.

Green and red-brown reeds surround a pond, with leafy trees in the background

My project will cover the Winter months from December through to February, although the public workshops are likely to take place later due to the current Covid restrictions.

The artwork I am planning to make relates to the themes of flooding and the meadow’s role in natural flood attenuation or “breathing space” of the river, alleviating peak flows downstream. It will also touch on biodiversity which is boosted by the seasonal flooding and distribution of nutrients. I will be using plant materials to make paper for my artwork, and I will use dyes and pigments derived from plants, berries, soil and other materials gathered from the Avon Meadows.”

Visit Andrew’s blog to read the full piece and see more images photgraphed on-site.

andhowenow.wordpress.com/2020/12/21/avon-meadows-beauty-and-utility/