Craft students create nature sculptures for Poole Farm
Students on Plymouth College of Art’s BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices degree course have designed and installed sculptural installations at Plymouth’s community farm, Poole Farm, based in Derriford Community Park.
Working in partnership with the Green Minds project, first year BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices students Sarah Drury, Lisa Mceleny, Elisabeth Vass, Stuart Morrisey and Nathan Soper worked together to develop a sculpture for the grounds of Poole Farm. Featuring mixed materials such as glass, ceramics and wood, including wood felled from trees in Bircham Valley, the sculpture was inspired by the farm itself. Collecting feathers, leaves and flowers to create textured ceramic and glass tiles, the students even added a section of bamboo sticks to create a mini bug hotel.
Student Nathan Soper, who worked on hexagonal glass tiles for the sculpture, said, “It was different working with a team, there were loads of ideas flying around. I really enjoyed the process, installing something for people to get their eyes on. Poole Farm is an amazing place, I was so inspired by the preservation of the bees and nature. You really feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere when you’re there - definitely not in the middle of a city.”
Jerry Griffiths, Natural Infrastructure Officer for Plymouth City Council, said, “The sculpture is beautiful. So much thought has gone into the design and skill and into the execution. To call it a sign or a map is a disservice though, it is more like an embodiment of Poole Farm.
“The attention to detail and the way that nature has inspired the piece is clear to see and the choice of organic colours and shapes is spot on. Even the glass hexagons are exactly the right colour of the honeycomb within the hives! The wood background sets off the piece and the use of timber that was felled from the road gives it a storytelling element. I always take visitors past it now and it helps to start discussions on the importance of nature and conservation at Poole Farm.”
Another group of first year students from BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices at Plymouth College of Art, Sirun Chiarini, Vittoria Sutton, Caroline Barr, Grace Crawford, Bonny Timms and Jaimie Clarke, created a willow pod structure for the farm, situated in the forest school area.
Sirun Chiarini said, “The whole project from start to finish took about a month. We came up with ideas to pitch to the rest of the class before splitting into groups with those who had similar ideas. My group wanted to do something interactive, with natural materials that would fit in with Poole Farm’s commitment to the community and sustainability. As a group, we quickly agreed to make a willow pod-like structure, building on skills we had previously been shown. We used a large MDF wheel for the base and constructed our panels, side by side, interweaving them as we went. I had put out a request for green material donations, so as well as willow we also used eucalyptus, curly willow and cuttings of honeysuckle, vines and dogwood.”
“Despite the limited time frame, we managed to achieve what we set out to do which is thanks to everyone in the group being proactive and communicating well. I’m really proud of how we worked as a team, and I’m so proud of the finished pod, which fits perfectly in the woodland at Poole Farm.”
Jerry Griffiths said, “The willow pod is eye catching, intriguing, fun and enchanting, but still functional. The children already love it. It is perfectly cited and blends into the surroundings and takes pride of place in our new forest school area. The deer have been kept out by a fence whilst the sticks of the pod dry out. I can’t wait to take away the fence so the pod will melt into a secret hideaway in the surroundings of the beaver woods.”
“Is it a duck? Or a platypus, or a beaver maybe? It doesn’t matter, because it makes people stop and think. I feel there’s some Van Gogh Starry Night swirls going on in some sections, but the choice of materials is perfect for the beaver woods. I just hope they don’t eat it on their return!”
“The green areas of Poole Farm are naturally beautiful, but other parts are also functional and agricultural. I’ve long wanted to bring more creativity, art and culture to the site to make it more beautiful, so thanks to all the students for their hard work to help this quest.”
Grace Edmunds-Jones, Landscape Technician Apprentice at Poole Farm said, “It’s a great addition to our woodland site. The children from the forest school love to use it as an escape from the crowd. It’s a lovely calming space.”
Jemma Sharman, Green Minds project lead said, “These sculptures are a beautiful response to the place and natural environment, provoking conversations about the farm and wider community park. A big thank you to all those involved!”
Chris Smith, Green Minds Project Coordinator for Plymouth College of Art, said, “This has been such a fabulous project. We put the call out to college staff back in July 2021, to see who would like to find opportunities for their students to collaborate with Green Minds, and Jason Marks, tutor on Craft and Material Practices, was one of the first to see the potential opportunities.”
“The Poole Farm project tied in beautifully with our curriculum objectives. Giving students the chance to create sculptures in response to ‘place’, whilst learning more about their local environment and simultaneously making art that actively contributes to nature. I love the way that the sign tells the story of the place, but also creates homes for wildlife. I also love that the willow pod sculpture creates a magical space for inspiration and play in nature.”
Green Minds is a partnership project, led by Plymouth City Council, and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Urban Innovative Actions. You can keep up to date with the project at www.greenmindsplymouth.com and follow Poole Farm on their Instagram page, @poolefarmplymouth.