Community Newswire ran this article, about the new conservation area at St Julian’s Close:
Children from South Marston C of E Primary School, near Swindon, enjoyed an art day with a difference on Wednesday.
The Creative Kids, Creepy Crawlies and Community Woodland day, run by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, was part of a scheme to turn 1.55 hectares of woodland into a community space that will be managed for wildlife, with the local community invited to be involved in the site.
Trust staff and members of its Future Jobs Fund team helped the children to discover the wildlife living in nearby woodland and then use this knowledge to inspire pieces of art that the local community could enjoy in the future.
The children joined in the creation of willow sculptures, made woodland monsters out of clay and natural materials and created pictures that will later be turned into mosaics that will decorate two benches to be situated along the path. The pictures will also be used to create a series of brass rubbings in the wood.
They also experienced the smells of the natural world, with organisers using socks impregnated with smells such as garlic, strawberry and vanilla as part of a sensory trail, though some smells were not as popular as others. Harry, seven, compared the garlic smell to rotting bacon, saying: “Eww that’s horrible!”
On the whole though the children clearly enjoyed their brush with nature. Five-year-old Joshua said: “I’m going to look for more bugs. I never knew the wood was there.”
Finlay, six, said: “It was fun when I caught a spider. I liked it when we shook the trees and a green bug fell out and climbed on my hand.”
Nine-year-old Thomas said: “The wood was fun but the drawing was probably my favourite task all day – its fun. I’ve never done it before; I don’t usually get the time to do drawing.”
Classmate Ellie, five, added: “This is really fun! My plants are really colourful. I’m enjoying this more than Derek’s smelly socks!”
Sarah Wood, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust education officer, said: “It’s been a fantastic day. Everyone was buzzing and the kids had smiles on their faces. It’s also been very productive and they made six willow sculptures to use.
“All the children were taken on sensory trails and minibeast hunts through the woodland. Once back at school we took pre-soaked pliable willow twigs and showed the children how to bend and tie them into shapes based on woodland creatures they had seen.”
Nick Davies (22) from Calne, an environmental artist working with the trust through the Future Jobs Fund, led one of the workshops. He said: “It’s a rewarding experience, especially seeing the children enjoying art and using their creative spark. Some showed real talent.
“I got them to decorate a landscape painting with wildlife they had collaged, sketched and painted themselves while teaching them the basics of drawings animals and plants. This will hopefully encourage them to start drawing as a hobby and to take more notice of local wildlife.”