Tag Archive: Old Oswestry hillfort


 

A big thank you to everyone who helped make our Heritage Open Days events such a success! We had a lot of families come through the Library to take part in our activities, and a lot of happy faces as a result. Indeed, the event was so successful that we’re thinking of doing something like this more regularly – watch this space! Thanks to Diana for the above photographs – we should also be in the Advertizer this week, too.

And for those of you visiting the Library this week and next, the results of Dzintra’s weaving activity, along with even more examples of historical weaving, are up on display at the moment. Do go and have a look – and yes: she was wearing that iron age dress on Saturday. (And Dorothy was wearing her iron age trousers, too, but I’m not sure whether anyone caught that on camera!)

The hillfort mindfulness walk on Sunday was also a great success, despite the wet and windy weather. We’re putting that walk together as a small booklet, which will be part of our upcoming exhibition at Oswestry Library next month. In addition to the walk itself, the booklet will also include new illustrations, including linocuts of the hillfort done by Designs in Mind artists.

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“Old Oswestry Hillfort” linocut by Kevin Gibson, 2019

 

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Just a reminder to everyone that the Hillfort Creativity Group will be meeting this Wednesday, July 31st at 11am in the Oswestry Library Meeting Room. We’ll be focusing on the hillfort-related art activities we’re going to run for Heritage Open Days in September. We’ll be talking table-space, time slots and equipment, plus discussing any contribution we can make to related HOD activity ideas, such as the Designs in Mind “Mindfulness Walk” around the hillfort. Dzintra is also going to use us as guinea pigs for her historical weaving activity which she’ll be doing at the Library during the HOD weekend. I’m not sure of the details, but we’ll get to try various traditional and historical weaving techniques. I also think Dorothy may be bringing in some fired results from our flatback session last month. Plus, we may have an opportunity to hear some hillfort-related poetry while we work – or, if not, a reading from a recent Oswestry-related historical novel about Saint Oswald.

See you there!

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A Staffordshire flatback commemorating the Death of Nelson (c. 1835-1875)

Another excellent meeting yesterday in the Dunbabin Room at The Willow Gallery. We kicked off with some organisational stuff about the upcoming Oswestry Nature Festival exhibition at the Willow. We have the whole of the wall by the rear entrance (opposite the kitchen door and loos) for the duration of the exhibition, and will be hanging it “salon style” (ie: works as close as possible) so as to maximise our presence.

 

Because we will be using the wall (and only that one wall), knowing what we have to exhibit is crucial. Please send Debbie your application forms and measurements of the piece(s) you wish to enter into the exhibition this week. We will be drawing up a plan of the wall to give to Anthony as a guide to hanging, but we must know sizes of pieces in order to do this. All work must be delivered to The Willow Gallery by June 29th at the latest in order to be included. You must have completed your Willow Gallery artists’ statement and application form (copies available from Debbie if you do not already have one), and attach a luggage-style label to the back of your work(s) with your name and title of the work. There will be Old Oswestry Hillfort Creativity Group stickers with Anthony behind the main desk at The Willow in a marked envelope. When you drop off your work(s), stick one of these stickers onto the luggage label with your name/title on it; this will ensure it gets hung in the right place (John will be delivering these stickers to The Willow from next Wed., so if you deliver your work before then, stickers won’t be available, but let me know you’ve done so and I will find your work and stick a sticker for you next Wed.).

We then had a quick discussion – that turned into quite a brainstorming session – about the Heritage Open Days Events in Oswestry Library in September. This event replaces the originally-proposed exhibition idea in Oswestry Market during HOD. Instead, we are now going to run a series of creative activities at tables throughout Oswestry Library on Saturday September 14th, between 10am-2pm as part of Heritage Open Days. From our discussion, the following activities were suggested:

Diana – papier mache hillforts

Rob – drawing iron age tools

Dzintra – historical weaving

Dorothy – bronze and iron age pot-making

John – drawing and colouring: hillforts/etc.

We will also have something about butterflies, moths and other insects on the hillfort, making use of work Dzintra has already done, plus things that Diana has from a previous workshop. More activities would be welcome, so if anyone has any ideas, bring them along to the next meeting. Something word-related would be good – Dave/Penny/or any of our other word-smiths: poetry/creative writing/…etc? If we have more activities than the Library has room for, we shall use that happy occasion to approach Mark Hignett at the Museum and see if we can use the Courtroom for overspill. We can talk more about that next meeting.

Enough talking – time for making! Dorothy kindly brought along clay and some photographs and a book on Staffordshire “flatbacks” – mantlepiece ceramics which were popular eighteenth and nineteenth century decorative/commemorative items. We all had a go making flatback trees, based on the examples she brought. Although we only had 45 minutes to play, even those of us who had never worked with clay before made great progress! Dorothy has kindly offered to fire and glaze our finished pieces, so sometime before next Friday, take them to the Library and put them on the windowsill above the BVA display area (with newspaper, poo bag and a bit of bubble wrap if you have it) and she will collect them and complete them. And if you’re interested – and I think a lot of us were – Dorothy has offered to do a much longer clay workshop, perhaps half-a-day? (Dorothy hasn’t confirmed this yet, so don’t quote me!). Get in touch if you’re interested and we’ll start making some arrangements. We’ll need to find a room (although the Dunbabin worked well, I thought), and work out a time, so nothing has been set in stone (or clay, ha-ha) yet. 

Discussion both during and after the session touched on the idea of commemoration and memorialisation. I’m interested in the idea that “craft art” objects like flatbacks can actually sometimes do a better job of bringing commemoration of places and events into the home than “fine art” objects. Think about all the tourist souvenirs people have in their homes that commemorate visits to important or significant places. I’ve got plenty of “real” art and “real” craft from around the world at home, but I’ve also got a resin replica of the Romulus/Remus/Wolf mother statue I bought in Rome on my desk, which probably does more to make me say “Ah, Rome – I should go back there some day” than any other Rome-related art object or book I have. It made me think about snowglobes, picture-frames, fridge magnets and other kinds of tourist tat: do they do a better job of connecting people to historical places than “fine” or “high” art reminders? Perhaps what Old Oswestry actually needs are Old Oswestry snowglobes, fridge magnets and other forms of modern-day “flatbacks”?

Anyway, we can fight about that at a later date! Speaking of which, we didn’t set a date or location for our next meeting. July is a bit complicated for a number of people, but so far we’re looking at the very last Wed in the month – the 31st – as a possibility. Get in touch with myself or Debbie to let us know if this might suit, and we’ll fix a date and be back in touch within the next week or so.

Dragonflies at The Willow

Dragonfly poster

Dzintra’s next workshop at The Willow Gallery in Oswestry is coming up at the end of this month. It’s a creative, drop-in session between 11-2pm, so stay for as long as you want. Great for kids – but parents need to stay and supervise. And if you’re wondering how this connects to the Hillfort, check out the most recent BioBlitz report from Turnstone Ecology detailing the extraordinary range of species the hillfort supports. There are plans for English Heritage and Turnstone Ecology to work with the Hillfort community group to do another full-scale evaluation report in eighteen months’ time, but anyone interested in the ecology of the site should get in touch with the community team via Facebook and find out about art and creativity can contribute towards interim recording projects (like Graham Mitchell’s “Hillfort Watch“).

Dzintra has been busy at Oswestry Library this month with her butterfly project – and, following on from discussions about the BioBlitz at our last meeting, she has included Old Oswestry Hillfort as a recommended butterfly spotting location!

Next time you’re in the Library, check out her display:

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NATURE AT YOUR DOORSTEP

Butterflies and Moths

Hand drawn and hand painted by Dzintra Bernsaida

Through my displays in the library, I like to encourage people to go outside and explore nature.  This time it’s butterflies!

Do you see how colourful they are and how just watching them can cheer you up?  Maybe some of them are in your garden, local park or even our very own Old Oswestry Hillfort.

Just sit quietly and wait to see what will happen. Maybe one of the butterflies will land near you and you can see all their beautiful colours and patterns.  If you can spot some of the butterflies I’ve shown here and say the name to your family and friends you will sound like a cool nature expert!

Dzintra Bernsaida is a Community Artist, a member of the Oswestry Makes team, a member of the Hillfort Creativity group and a good friend to Oswestry library. 

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Diana’s Hillfort activities and exhibition of art at Oswestry Library – the kind of thing we’re planning to repeat later this year for Heritage Open Days.

A great meeting yesterday! There was a lot of creative thinking in the air, and it feels like we all came away not just inspired and enthusiastic, but with some solid ideas for upcoming projects and exhibitions. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, here are notes on the meeting: 

After a quick round of introductions to make sure the new members got to know everyone, we started with a discussion of exhibitions and other events. Here is a complete calendar of upcoming events from now through October. The first exhibition on that list is:

Oswestry Nature Festival

Dates: July 6th – August 28th

Type of Event: This is an Oswestry-wide collection of events and exhibitions under the above banner. We have been offered some space for an exhibition in the Willow.

Co-ordinators: Debbie – She is putting together a group application for the exhibition, but will be circulating it to everyone in the next week or so for them to add details of work they would like to submit.

Timetable: Deadline for taking artwork to the Willow Gallery June 29th

Notes: Although this isn’t our event, it feels like a good opportunity to forge creative links between the hillfort and natural/earth/green art happening elsewhere.

Next, we had our inaugural “expert knowledge” talk. The idea of these talks is to have someone with some expert or inside knowledge on the hillfort give a short 15-20 minute creative talk on some aspect of the hillfort. For this inaugural talk, John told the story not of the “hillfort” – but “The Hill“; the 358 million-year-long story of Old Oswestry as a place, of which The Hill as a human place – a “hillfort” – is only a part. Here are John’s notes in case people find them useful.

Afterwards, the idea of the hillfort as a “hill” prompted all sorts of discussion, both about the way this idea allows one to better understand Old Oswestry as a landscape place, and as a place with a history that stretches back (and forward!) into Deep Time. It also makes it easier to separate out “The Hill” from the erroneous martial implications of the term “hillfort”, and easier to look specifically at the geological and natural information about the place and then, in a different way, at the archaeological and historical information about the place. We talked for a long, long time about the way the hill would have looked at certain points in time, its relationship to the Coppie, how geology, topography and history affect present-day flora and fauna – indeed, about the temporal and spatial context of the hill and the hillfort that often gets overlooked as we focus on “the monument” itself.

The upshot of all this wide-ranging discussion was two-fold:

  • First, we all came away thinking more about “the hillfort” as being just one aspect of “The Hill” that is Old Oswestry and how this would impact on our own work; some interesting ideas for making work that both explores context and makes links.
  • Second, these thoughts coalesced into plans to develop a range of activities that we could lead at Oswestry Library for our contribution to Heritage Open Day: activities that would look at “The Different Ages” of Old Oswestry, and focus on bringing together geology, stratigraphy, archaeology and history.

Along the way, of course, our discussion veered off into a hundred little byways and diversions: from Dorothy’s “flatbacks” on the theme of “Save Our Setting”, to the historical weaving activities Dzintra will also be doing at the library during Heritage Open Days, to John’s illustrations looking not back, but forward, to the “future history” of Old Oswestry, to Diana’s waste plastic art, Pam’s woodland management and Rob’s fauvist designs on the hillfort (possibly soon to get a digital upgrade?). Talk of Iron Age re-enactment as another focus for community art projects prompted Debbie to mention an upcoming Textile Stories Study Day at the Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, Sat. May 11th – more information via this link:  http://dwtextilestories.blogspot.co.uk/ And Dorothy and Pam’s mention of a Radio 4 programme about the value of art as an environmental recording tool (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0004sdb) prompted discussion of our work as a form of social archive of changing conditions and attitudes towards Old Oswestry – something we’ll work on more in coming months.

So, as you can see, a highly creative meeting, filled not just with ideas, but a goodly array of plans for onward projects, both individual and collective. Our next meeting is scheduled for 11am on Wednesday, June 19th at the Oswestry Library meeting room again. During the meeting we might get an opportunity to trial some of the proposed Heritage Open Days activities various of us will have been developing. See you then!

Hillfort Creativity Group Meeting

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The next meeting of the Hillfort Creativity Group will be on Wed. May 8th at 11am in the Meeting Room at Oswestry Library (not Hermon Chapel, as we thought). All creative-minded people are warmly invited: visual artists, musicians, writers, makers, crafters, etc.

We’ll start with some brief information about upcoming exhibitions and events, and then short updates from anyone who has been working on creative hillfort-related projects. We’ll then have our inaugural “creative talk” – not a lecture or a presentation! – from local historian, archaeologist and illustrator John Swogger about the hillfort’s long life-story. These talks are meant to be a spur to creativity, so you are invited (encouraged!) to write, sketch, knit, doodle, etc. during the talk, as well as press the speaker with creative questions.

Look forward to seeing you all there!

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This Inside Out blog will be hosting posts and information for the “Hillfort Creativity Group” for the next few months. This group is a newly-formed hub for visual artists, creative writers, poets, musicians – indeed, anyone whose creative endeavours have been sparked by Old Oswestry Hillfort’s history, archaeology, wildlife, natural beauty or spirit of place. The group is a way for those of us inspired in some way by the hillfort to share our endeavours, find new collaborative partners and come together for events and exhibitions. Some of us are public artists, keen to pursue outreach projects that bring the community into our art – some of us will be pursuing more individual, introspective creative practices. The group will be using this blog and the Inside Out Facebook page to share that work.

Those of you who are new to the Inside Out blog – click the “Subscribe” option on the side menu to receive all posts and information about upcoming meetings, events and exhibitions. We will also be cross-posting that information on the Inside Out Facebook page, so you can check there as well.

Our next meeting will be in May – and we’ll be posting the date, time and venue of that meeting soon. Whatever kind of creative soul you happen to be – writer, sculptor, photographer, dancer, musician, gamer, crafter, knitter, painter, illustrator or maker – you’re welcome to join us!

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