We hosted an exciting year of walks, talks and workshops – 44 in total! – as part of our annual Celebrate programme. A massive THANK YOU to all the programme leaders, volunteers, management committee, venues, collaborating partners and supporters of our programme who helped with energy and enthusiasm to make it such an excellent year.
Behind the scenes, we’ve been busy getting plans together for our 2020 programme, a couple of which have already been announced on our website. Next year is W&BA’s 10th birthday, so we’re planning a year of activities which builds upon our decade of work using the arts to connect people and places along the Waveney and Blyth river valleys.
Alongside changes to our management committee in November, we’ve also introduced a new secure online payment system for membership and events. If you’d like to join us a member (or continue your membership for another year), follow the simple payment system on our website. The cost is the same – £15 for individuals and £20 for organisations – and, as ever, includes discount at all of our events and creative opportunities through the year.
Our programme in 2019…
Our Celebrate programme ran from May to October this year. We hosted an engaging programme of creative walks which took groups to curious places in the landscape, discovering habitats through drawing in Walberswick, Roman ruins in Burgh Castle, and stories of hoards in Hoxne.
Through our talks and workshops, we explored the mythology of spinning through poetry, the lives of insects via the lens of macro photography, and the world of all things wool at a popular textile-themed morning at The Cut (pictured) as part of our Thrilling Thursdays programme.
Our sixth annual sculpture event – Waveney Valley Sculpture Trail – was held at the Raveningham Centre near Beccles for it’s third year. It was curated by artist Sarah Cannell themed around the ‘Woven Woodland’, set amongst three acres of lawns, orchards and woodland spaces. It was a busy and well-attended 5 weeks and we’d like to thank everyone involved who made it possible! This year, our flagship sculpture event will take on its next incarnation as Sculpture in the Valley 2020. Every three years we move onto a new patch and next year, we’re very excited to be hosted at Potton Hall, Westleton to delve into the Blyth valley landscape. Sculpture in the Valley 2020 will run from 18th July to 2nd August, curated by Suffolk-based David Baldry. Our call out to artists is now open until 7th February – we can’t wait to see your proposals!
This year, in response to the decline of biodiversity in our patch and beyond, we launched our Bugs & Blossoms programme. In May, we took over the community centre at Palgrave near Diss, for a weekend getting up close to the lives of insects, including an illustrated talk and macro photography workshop from Nicky Upton, weaving workshops with Jenny Goater and Maggie Campbell, and a walk inspired by Roger Deakin’s plant and insect observations. The Bugs & Blossoms theme created a buzz throughout the 2019 programme beyond the weekend launch too, with a midsummer moth walk led by Mark Cocker and haiku poetry with Tim Gardiner, and will continue into 2020… Look out for announcements in spring!
We also established our inaugural Two Rivers Book Festival in 2019, which is shaping up for next year’s programme too. This year, our festival patron Liz Calder – Booker Prize judge & co-founder of Bloomsbury Publishing – launched the festival with Dan Franklin and Lucy Hughes-Hallett talking about the fascinating world of publishing. Liz Calder will be back in 2020 with another intriguing talk in the summer.
As part of the Two Rivers Book Festival this year, we also took a creative look at books, including book-binding with Helen Durrent, letterpress printing with Edwin Mitchell-Finch (pictured), and authors Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin took an audience through ‘craftfulness’ techniques, exploring ways to achieve calm through making. The ever-popular Doggerland also featured too, with excerpts from Julia Blackburn’s Time Song leading the path for a guided walk through Benacre. The Low House at Laxfield ran with the theme and hosted a very popular weekend marking the end of our first year of Two Rivers.
We were also delighted to be selected for the 2019 Pakefield Postcard Auction which this summer raised over £3,500 for the W&BA programme next year. Thank you to the PPA organisers who work tirelessly to give back to their local community through annual art auctions. We’re very grateful to the generous postcard artists and bidders!
Coming next year…
In light of the changes to the management committee in the November AGM, we’ve been working behind the scenes to plan a programme which gets to the core of W&BA: using the arts to connect people and places along the Waveney and Blyth river valleys.
On 5th March, we’ll be hosting our first Thrilling Thursdays morning of 2020 at The Cut, Halesworth. We’ll be delving into the fascinating world of fungi with support from our experienced guides Jon Tyler and Tony Leech, who’ll be talking on the subject. Plus, we’ll be joined by Joanna Scott AKA Dotty Scotty, W&BA member and needle-felter extraordinaire, who’ll be showing us how fungi is endlessly inspiring in craft too. The Cut will also be laying on a mushroom themed lunch to enjoy. Book your tickets now!
Sculpture in the Valley 2020, our flagship annual sculpture event, will be hosted at Potton Hall, Westleton from 18th July to 2nd August. We’re delighted to be working with curator David Baldry who will be selecting the work for the event. Potton Hall offers W&BA members working in sculpture the opportunity to explore this year’s theme: ‘Reflections on Landscape’. We’re looking for artists to consider ideas about scale (micro to macro), perspectives and interaction between wild and cultivated aspects of the landscape. We are living in the context of climate crisis and this, along with broader perspectives on the landscapes we live in and our relationships with it could be compelling ideas to explore. Read more about the application process on our website.
Next year, expect walks, workshops and talks which grow curiosity for the landscapes, habitats and places in our patch through the arts. But for now, enjoy the festivities and look forward to the returning of the light as the days start to get longer towards spring.
Genevieve Rudd, W&BA Chair