This year I have been drawn into a project concerning some historic allotments at the edge of Chipping Norton, off Glyme Lane. They are currently threatened by large-scale housing development and by a planned relief road cutting through this area of farmland and ancient tracks. Last year artists Judith Yarrow and Crabby Taylor began meeting there to record and find inspiration by drawing and painting directly from what they found. An exhibition is planned to raise awareness of the value of the allotments and the adjoining Millennium Wood. The group has now been expanded, so that the show will include a poem, drawings, paintings, mixed media, ceramics, artists books, my glass and sound recordings of interviews with allotment holders.
Personally, I am finding it stimulating to work within such a varied group and to be involved in a project with local and wider significance.
Getting to know the allotments in winter, and drawing with freezing fingers, I found the allotments have a great sense of productive purpose and a great many rickety sheds and salvaged materials being put to inventive use. Plenty to draw and enjoy. In the Millennium Wood there are beautiful little stands of hazel, with newly-opened catkins catching the sun. The wood was only planted in 2001. Wouldn't it be a shame to lose it as an amenity for walkers and runners and all the wild things which live and shelter there?
I began working on my design.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been selecting the glass (which involved an enjoyable but expensive trip to Reading Stained Glass), gradually building up the layers of drawing and painting, and firing individual pieces in the kiln. I hope it will add to up the whole I have in my imagination.
The exhibition will be in the gallery upstairs at Chipping Norton Theatre from 4 April to 4 May. We hope it will highlight the value of these communal green spaces and give the visitor cause to wonder what kind of world we want to live in and pass on to our children.
The project touches on several burning issues for us all: how do we use our land and balance the needs of national policy and local need, housing, food production, open space for walking? Where can people grow plastic-free vegetables and enjoy pottering in their sheds? Where will the birds and insects go when such areas disappear under tarmac and double garages?
I am a glass artist based in Charlbury, Oxfordshire. I work in stained and fused glass. I work to commission and teach stained glass in my studio. I open my studio to visitors during Oxfordshire Artweeks.
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