THE BIRDS NESTS are an art installation created in Ferry Meadows Country Park, Peterborough as part of my art residency that has been funded by The Arts Council England until September 2017. Considering the presence of the extensive osier beds alongside the River Nene for many years I knew as a nature and installation artist that I had to do something to use this fabulous sustainable material that can be used to create so many things including baskets and hurdles-a type of fencing as well incredible sculptures. Willow can be coppiced -that is cut on rotation close to the ground or pollarded-cut higher up. These pollarded willows are often the huge willows that you see alongside the river Nene but many other rivers in the area and others including Somerset where I spent a lot of time in my childhood. The cut material is then used in the willow crafts, both modern and old.
As a professional wildlife conservationist I spent much time wandering sites along the river appreciating the amazing landscape and wildlife qualities that these trees have. Coppice willow also has similar qualities and huge osier beds historically were found in many parts of the country although there are much fewer areas in modern years.
The osier bed area on the north of the park was an ideal place to create therefore the create THE BIRDS NESTS as whilst cutting the willow some of the willow could therefore be used in their creation. Having recently had a shoulder operation and being under strict instructions of no lifting, carrying and exertion and February being the time to cut the willow, it was decided to create the nests with the volunteers and staff from the park.
Firstly I drew some images of the nests that I would like to see on brushes, an iPad app that enables speedy creation of images and somehow I can draw on the iPad whereas on paper I cannot-maybe its the amazing colours that can be created in a stylised manner so there is no pressure to be realistic when using the app. The nests are those of the long-tailed tit, blackbird and swan, 3 birds found in the park with very different styles of nests.
The long-tailed tits take up to 3 weeks to build their nests and line the nest with over 1500 snuggly feathers, the swans nest is a big heap of dried grass, sticks and other materials and is built by the female while the male gathers the materials for her, The blackbird nest is a cup of grasses and plant materials with twigs taking 2 weeks to make, and in gardens is made 2 weeks before nests in woodland.
Each of our nests are family sized and the hope is that families, individuals and groups sit in them and enjoy them, whilst learning a little about the birds who create such structures.
Brilliant work by the staff and volunteers to create these beautiful nests which are situated near Milton Ferry Bridge-walk over the bridge from the main part of the park and turn right along the river path and the nests are about 5 minutes walk. Please take your photos and tag the park in the pics!!
Expect more structures to come in the years ahead a the rangers seemed to be very inspired to create new shapes and structures and certainly when I was present the volunteers seemed to enjoy creating something a bit different for them!
For more of my art please see my website www.charronpugsleyhill.com and for The Nene Park Trust please go to www.neneparktrust.org.uk
This residency is funded by The Arts Council England and for which we are truly grateful for their support.