Autumn brings bright red apples and the wassailing we did last year seems to have given us an extra large crop….

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

Our arts festival enabled us to celebrate the changing seasons and to ring them in as part of a rush bearing performance

We have created a pop up exhibition that features the offerings brought into the church…

And this is still available to see over the next 2 weekends Sat and Sun 1-5pm

Art in Romney Marsh is an opportunity for artists to create site specific work in four churches on Romney Marsh

Newchurch, Old Romney, Ivychurch and St Mary in the Marsh

We’ve also been able to include work by local primary school children , in our horse drawn Lookers huts ……so if you’ve ever needed an excuse to  visit these incredible medieval churches ……now’s the time

http://www.artinromneymarsh.org

Summer mellows and the landscape lulls

Thoroughly enjoying collecting fennel and golden rod from the roadside as I travel across the marsh. I’m using the foraging basket I made from foraged willow, all good.

The familiar sounds of baby seagulls are at full pitch these days. Their call sound very prehistoric and make me think of dinosaurs….

Blackberries seem to be arriving earlier and earlier. However, they are a joy to work with and to eat

The results from overnight soaking…

Foraging for colours and the call of baby seagulls

Despite the attempt of moths to destroy my well stored supplies of Romney Marsh wool. I’m pleased to say work continues……the process of felting is very sensual, the wool is so soft *cloud-like*, it smells so comforting, the lanolin in it cleans and softens your skin as you work , and then the texture and colours are very seductive. What’s not to like?

The temptation is to go big but making circles of wool, some of which has traits of dye from last summer ie yellow, is a good starting point.

We have recently been working with a local archaeologist who has made us think about how wool would have been sourced from the hedgerow. Also, that sheep stealing was seen as a crime punishable by hanging. There is an original prison cell in both New Romney and Dymchurch that’s has the most chilling graffiti.

On a cheerier note….

We are looking to the seashore for inspiration…..

We are planning to exhibit work that we’ve made using traditional skills and foraged materials…..more details to follow

Another material that has been in storage since last summer is this…

Yes the dreaded couch grass, which has the most beautiful colours and textures….

I’ve been coiling and produced a shape based on the common limpet, which I love collecting from the beach…this is the piece I’ve been working

I’m thinking of giving it more structure by making a willow support inside the shape ie not visible….

While coiling the material I’ve had so many nostalgic associations, the joys of making ……….

Summer colours and seashore inspiration

Our lead artists have now had their site visits and our Open Call closes tomorrow.

Romney Marsh continues to beguile, inspire and conjure with our thoughts and perceptions. The Sound Mirrors are a solid, concrete, Brutalist reminder of our recent past. Dungeness is the closest to France and has been the witness to many conflicts through the ages

We are so fortunate to have these visual reminders in our landscape. The site is now managed by @RSPBsoutheast which feels very appropriate. The shingle desert that surrounds the mirrors is abundant with wildlife. The plants this summer have been particularly stunning especially as the roadsides have not mown or sprayed , the wildflowers have flourished

My favourites , dyer’s weld and bugloss.

Our willow project continues, with mass production of bird feeders and stars. These were meant to be made available at the church summer fete on Saturday. Unfortunately, other priorities made this an unachievable goal and none of our community group were able to help out….oh well, there’s always other opportunities to share the outcomes of our evolving skills

These are made from cultivated willow that we’ve purchased from suppliers in Somerset

We are also trialling foraged willow from both Canterbury and Romney Marsh. The material was cut in February and dried through April/ May. The test is to see if we can resoak and use the willow for weaving

I’m pleased to say that yes plant supports and cloches have been achieved. This is the product In Use on the allotment. I have to highlight the willow growing alongside the beans, artichokes and chard.

This is in preparation for next year’s willow crop

Here’s a sample audio from our audio trail, soon to be published check our website for details

https://artinromneymarshblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/52db7-ladylifeboatlaunchersclip.mp3

Artist visits and Sound mirrors

The weather has been perfect for enjoying the local landscape and to see the wildflowers growing on roadsides and in churchyards.

We’ve had a variety of visitors including , archaeologists, conservationists, funders, artists and quite a few four legged friends….,

Thank you to Kent Community Foundation for coming to see the work we are doing bringing traditional skills back to Romney Marsh. This is our Lydd group practising wool spinning.

This is the vicar’s dog with dog collar

A very enthusiastic and inspiring sound artist viewing the church space from the minstrel gallery

Lola cooling down inside the church

Steadfast Sid paying his respects

Viper’s Bugloss, poppies and the vicar’s dog (s)

We are moving towards the launch of our new audio trail for Romney Marsh central. We’ve added a link to our website to give a flavour of what to expect when listening to the audio. It will be stories from local people and some cultural reflections. We particularly want to celebrate E Nesbit who is buried at St Mary in the Marsh. For this reason, we are working with local primary schools asking children to respond to the Five Children and IT story. We are going to be displaying their work in our new Looker’s hut

This is our strong team of volunteers carefully manoeuvring the hut into the churchyard

This will be open to the public over the next couple of months in time for the celebration of Edith’s birthday in August. Sign up to our Facebook page for more info

We have been out recording stories and lives plus sounds from the landscape. Our skilled audio editor Diane has been *collaging* voices and sound together to make an exciting audio experience

https://artinromneymarshblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/52db7-ladylifeboatlaunchersclip.mp3

Click here for a sample of the work we are doing

The final outcome will be available to download in August 2019 and anyone can add it to their smart phone or MP3

Thanks to

SaLT audio trail and new Looker’s hut

Easier said than done! Spinning natural sheep wool fleece into yarn is like patting your head with one hand while rubbing your tummy with the other hand.

We have spent the last two sessions at Lydd learning the basics of how to spin wool and had many laughs trying to get the hand, foot and eye coordination just right.

Half way through session two, we can all work the treadle to make the wheel spin, (most of us found it easier with a bare foot).

One would think, great, half way there now, so a good time to add the wool fleece.

Romney Sheep fleece has a long staple, (length), therefore very good to spin.

So your foot is working the treadle and your hands are positioned ready to feed the wool, as the first fibres begin to feed through onto the bobbin suddenly your attention is drawn to the repositioning of your hands and your coordination goes and your foot stops working the treadle. Time to start again…and again, as the saying goes, ‘if at first you don’t succeed try and try again’.

By the end of the second session we have improved, if only slightly, most of us can keep the wheel spinning and get some unevenly spun wool/yarn with knots, knobbly bits and thick sections, known as ‘slubs’, on a bobbin.

These days ‘slub yarn’ is quite fashionable and is purposely spun with slub sections to create a natural look. However, in this case, to achieve a more desirable slubbed natural look I feel a few less ‘intentional’ imperfections, would be perfect!

Therefore to conclude, practice makes perfect, more spinning next week!

Showing us how it’s done, making it look so easy.

Good news, I can’t tell you how pleased I am, I have seen a pair of swans with one cygnet, on two separate occasions, not far from the nest I have been visiting for the past few weeks.

From fleece to yarn…

We are now ready to move onto something new after spending a few weeks enjoying learning how to crochet. Time to get the spinning wheel out!

One last picture of our crocheted bags including one with a matching jacket.

Bagtastic!

With all the beautiful yellow blooms everywhere last week and the sweet, musky fragrant elderflowers in abundance in the hedgerows, it really felt like the beginning of summer and time to make elderflower cordial.

It’s very easy to make. Just be sure you know what you are picking!

To make approximately 1 litre of elderflower cordial you will need to gather about 15 elderflower heads. I like to have some with the tiny bids just opening and some fully opened flowers.

You will also need: 500g caster sugar, the zest from 2 unwaxed lemons, the juice from 1 of the lemons, approximately 4 tablespoons of runny honey

Cut the stalks with a pair of scissors and pop them in a bag or a basket and inspect them carefully, removing any bugs when you get home.

Once you have inspected the elderfower and removed any bugs and brown bits. You will need to:

Gently bring to the boil 1litre of water and add the sugar and honey and dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the lemon zest, the elderflower and the juice from 1 lemon.

Slice the other lemon and place on top of the elderflower.

Make sure the elderflower and lemon slices are fully submerged.

Put the lid on the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hours or at least overnight.

Strain your homemade cordial using a sieve lined with kitchen towel or muslin, (if you have it).

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal with screw top lids, corks or swing top seals.

It really is that easy.

I’ve made enough to share with family members.

Dilute with ice cold water, lemonade or soda to drink. Also goes down well with wine or Prosecco.

Your elderflower cordial can also be frozen in plastic containers for later use.

The pair of swans who built this nest some weeks back now and were sitting on their eggs have now gone. This photo shows broken egg shell but I haven’t seen the parent swans for about a week. I was really hoping to see the signets once they had hatched but haven’t even had glimpse of them anywhere. I will keep looking.

All bagged up!

We have all had so much fun learning to crochet. Over the last few weeks we have made great progress and gained confidence. We have set ourselves challenges, followed patterns and created our own designs. Thank-you Jean for getting us started and thank-you Katherine for getting us hooked!

Fruit and vegetable bag

I have noticed lots of yellow beauties this last week while out walking with Fizz.

Also these brown and black beauties.

Mother and child

Mother and child

All photos taken on The Romney Marsh.

It’s all in the bag!

The students at Lydd are totally hooked at the moment and have been busy crocheting useful items.

Some students in the group are still practising and perfecting their new skills crocheting additional bags and baskets following the same patterns to gain confidence and fully master the skill.

Other students have moved on, creating wonderful pieces, such as; a doggie poo-bag holder similar to the hard plastic ones that attach to your dog’s collar, a ‘granny square’ blanket and a crocheted fruit and vegetable bag, that we all want to make, a challenge that the rest of us have set ourselves.

Doggie poo-bag holder. Pawfect!

A finished crocheted fruit and vegetable bag.

The rest of the group started a crocheted fruit and vegetable bag last week and hope to finish it this week.

After spending much time watching the pair of blackbirds in and around my garden, on my roof, on the telegraph pole and so on, I now know they are nesting in my climbing rose.

If you look closely at the picture below you can just make out Mrs Blackbird’s tail feathers.

A recording of the ‘Marsh Frogs’, (a little longer than the recording posted last week).

Will soon be enough elder flowers to pick to make elder-flower cordial.

Totally hooked!