Two pak benches made from tree trunks cut length-wise, forming a seat and back rest. The leg are made of pieces of trunk. The back of each bench is decorated with carvings that showbutterflies, trees, the sun, clouds and ladybirds.
Risley Moss is one of the few areas of the raised peat bogs which stretched between Manchester and Liverpool. It is an important site for nature conservation with a wide variety of species and habitats. During the 19th century, the surrounding mosses became farmland. Risley was considered too wet, and was drained and used as a source of pea. Then, in 1938, the Moss was taken over by the War Ministry for the Royal Ordinance Factory to produce munitions for the Second Would War. After the War, the site fell into neglect, until it was adopted by the Commission for New Towns in the 1970s.
The area consists of a large expanse of mossland, inhabited by 11 species of dragonfly, and used as a hunting ground for birds of prey. There is a mixed woodland of glades and copied areas which are the home of many woodland birds. This woodland also includes many ponds, supporting both invertebrates and wetland plants.
The Risley Moss Arts Project
In 1994, The Mersey and Red Rose Forests, with the North West Arts Board commissioned an independent arts consultant Diana Johnson, to write a report concerning a broad-based arts strategy for Community Forests in the North West. The report, published in December 1994, recommended that forests should "recognize the arts as integral to the vision, understanding, planning, development, management promotion and enjoyment of the Mersey and Red Rose forests."
The research stage of the report coincided with the early meetings of the Risley Moss Arts Steering Group. When the report was published, the Group began to develop proposals for a two year pilot arts development scheme. It was agreed that the scheme should reflect the policy objectives from the report and demonstrate the benefits of an integrated arts project in forest parks. The scheme has been extended beyond this initial two year period.
The objectives of the project are:
- to encourage the involvement by all sections of the community in the development of Risley Moss
- ensure equality of access to and participation in the development at the Moss
-explore ways of affirming and celebrating the many culture represented in the wider communities
- raise awareness, understanding, appreciation and help improve the sense of ownership of the environment and wildlife it supports
- create exciting opportunities for artists and crafts worker of all kinds to work in an environment with and for the local community
- strengthen the partnership between the statuary, voluntary and private sections
The initial project took the form of a series of residencies of two or three months by six different artists, chosen from seventy applicants. These were chosen because they had an affinity for nature, their work being particularly suited to Risley Moss. In late March 1996, the artists were invited to spend a weekend at Risley Moss, to allow them to meet and share their work, to begin exploring common themes which would allow some continuity from one residency to another. A network has now developed between the artists for a sharing of ideas.
In selecting artists, the Steering Group was mindful to ensure that each residency should respond appropriately to the local community, features of the natural / social history of the reserve and to continuity of the two year programme. The artists were asked to consider the following themes:
- Wildlife - a niche for everything
- Traditional occupations - new & old
- The impact of World War II
- Risley Moss Today - a place to relax with nature
- Our role in shaping the future
Each was also asked to consider how they would engage the local people and visitors in the work. This may have occurred through total collaboration with the community, through demonstration or with taster workshops.
Gordon MacLellan, Richard Caink, Cate Clark, Lynne Stein, Lynn Kirkham, Philip Bews.
PLEASE NOTE: This is an ongoing project, and so the last pieces will not be known until the end of 1997, so none have been included here.
PMSA recording information