Yarmouth Springs Eternal: Walking through stories of the past

Under Breydon Bridge (image credit_Genevieve Rudd)

We were led by photographer Mark Cator for our third artist-led walk/workshop session. He began his session with a photography presentation of Great Yarmouth, with a focus on the life and culture around Breydon Water since the 1800s. Mark is an expert on the photographer P H Emerson, having grown up around the Norfolk Broads, so much of the presentation explored this historic work alongside Mark’s own photography. It was fascinating to track the changes based on local landmarks, such as the Town Hall and river, which gave us a good starting point before heading out on our walk, picking up the start of the Angles Way walking route.

Links to Landscape

Angles Way walking route (image credit_Genevieve Rudd)

One of our group members had a strong personal link to the area, having grown up and lived on the edge of Breydon Water for many years, which enriched the day with lots of insider local knowledge. Mark had some of his own photography from the area taken around the 1990s, that we used to compare and contrast on location. Even when the group didn’t have a personal connection to the landscape we were walking within, it triggered early memories. One of our participants had spent time in Alaska when he was younger and remembered eating Fiddlehead Ferns, a memory sparked during a conversation about the abundant edible Alexanders around us. Another participant had grown up in South Africa and remembered childhoods exploring vast landscapes. We spoke about how, in the context of Norfolk, Breydon Water looks vast but even here, we’re still not far from houses, shops, trains and roads.

We were blessed with bright sunshine and blue skies, so it felt like the perfect day to relax by the water, talking and sharing stories, sitting low to the ground to keep away from the cool wind once we reached Breydon Water. Mark had selected a text by P H Emerson written around 1890 on the stories from the area. We each read a short passage against the watery backdrop, recorded by Mark. After basking in the sun, chatting and taking some photos, we walked back into town for lunch.

Reviewing & recording

Screening of Sara reading P H Emerson (image credit Genevieve Rudd)

In the afternoon, we had a screening of the group’s reading Mark had recorded on location, which audiences will be able to see at our exhibition in May and June Thanks to our project assistant Moyses Gomes for translating extracts of the text into Portuguese too. Once we’d all been embarrassed by seeing ourselves on the big screen (!) Mark had a final activity to bring our conversations, walking and experiences from the day together. We thought about the lines found at Breydon Water – horizon, jetty, posts, clouds – and created a long collaborative monochrome drawing. The page was populated with words extracted from the P H Emerson text, some of which are now lost in history. Some of our multilingual group members also translated selected words to add into the drawing, alongside line drawings in graphite and charcoal.

It was a relaxed and sunny day, filled with conversations and images from the past and present. Our group members had lots of positive things to say about the session:

“The photos of the areas at the beginning were essential and a good opener to the walk and observation in the nature”

“Quite relaxing and pleasant I’d say. Photography is not one of my skills, but I enjoyed meeting you guys”

“I really enjoyed unexplored areas of Great Yarmouth”

Events coming sooN!

Find out details of our upcoming events below. If you would like to stay informed of all of the latest information about these events, then you can sign up to our newsletter. Our first update will be going out in a couple of weeks time.

EXHIBITION – WEDNESDAY 19TH MAY TO SUNDAY 20TH JUNE 2021

PRIMEYARC, Market Gates Shopping Centre, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2BG | Open daily: Monday-Saturday 12pm to 5:30pm + Sunday 12pm-4:30pm

Find out more on the Norfolk & Norwich Festival website

CONFERENCE – SATURDAY 22ND MAY 2021

PRIMEYARC, Market Gates Shopping Centre, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2BG | 12pm to 5:30pm, schedule tbc

Book your free ticket on the Norfolk & Norwich Festival website

FREE PUBLIC ARTS & NATURE EVENTS – JUNE 2021

PRIMEYARC, Market Gates Shopping Centre, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2BG | Timings and booking details, tbc |

We will be hosting a series of drop-in and bookable artist-led walks and events that explore creativity connected to the natural world

  • Saturday 12th June: #MyJam Culture Sharing Lab, curated by originalprojects; – Facebook event
  • …more to be announced in April/May 2021

All events are planned to follow and adhere to COVID-19 guidelines

Large scale charcoal and graphite drawing with Mark Cator (image credit_Genevieve Rudd)

Yarmouth Springs Eternal: curious shapes and colours with Georgie Manly

Exploring the Cemetery with Georgie Manly (image credit_Moyses Gomes)

In our first session when asked where the group would visit to experience nature around town, the most popular answer was Great Yarmouth Cemetery. Therefore it made sense to make the Cemetery our walk destination for our second session guided by guest artist Georgie Manly.

EXPLORING & OBSERVING

Drawing in the Cemetery (image credit_Moyses Gomes)

We headed out from our meeting place in Market Gates Shopping Centre, through the market and towards the Minster. The walk was filled with the sound of alarms, sirens and dogs barking, so reaching the Minster and Cemetery grounds felt especially peaceful. After swapping facts about the history of the building, we explored the space individually with some prompts from Georgie. She suggested we focus on a plant to create a study with words and sketches, from observations, memories and stories or facts we already knew about it we welcomed into the mix.

After some initial sketching, we moved into the Old Cemetery, past a gathering of seagulls and pigeons fighting over bread crumbs and into the windy tree lined space. We then created a second plant study in this wilder location. Many of the group members were drawn in by the gnarled trees, pretty Spring primroses and rambling ivy vines. One of our participants shared a beautiful poem she had written in Portuguese, which she translated to the group in English. She spoke about the connection between humans and plants, and how we share so much in our life cycles, and Georgie suggested that the graveyard environment can often inspire deep reflections on life.

To round off our time at the Cemetery, we had a go at drawing with scissors, cutting shapes from coloured paper inspired by our plants studies, which we then embedded into the landscape. For me, this felt like the most magical part of the day. The group was tentative at first and we spoke about what a strange thing it was to do. However, after a little while, we had soon curated a pop-up exhibition of colourful shapes, and included papier mache recycled vessels one of our group members brought along to show us. The whole arrangement was made even more surreal by the dead rat laying face up under the tree nearby, but it was fun and lively because of its spontaneousness and playful energy in what could’ve been a solemn space if it wasn’t for the Spring plants bursting into life around us.

Spontaneous installation – Yarmouth Springs Eternal (video credit_ Genevieve Rudd)

After carefully removing our paper shapes and making sure the location was left how we found it, we went back for a spot of lunch from the market. We reviewed our morning walk and created a new arrangement using the things we had made, drawn and found in the Cemetery. Georgie is very good at gently encouraging creative engagement and the group soon curated another arrangement, this one even more beautifully odd and eclectic than the last! We took part in large scale still-life drawing with charcoal and coloured ink to finish off our day, with some slow looking, quick 1 minute sketching and added collaged elements of our drawn shapes.

Still-life drawing and found object arrangement with Georgie Manly (image credit_Moyses Gomes)

It was brilliant to work with Georgie and see how her influence sparked fresh creativity with the Yarmouth Springs Eternal community group. I think the final charcoal collaged drawings show the free and playful energy she brought out from the group. 

Look out for Georgie’s creative prompts and ideas, alongside our other guest artists, in the Yarmouth Springs Eternal creative resource booklet, which will launch at the Summer Solstice. It will be filled with ways to engage with the outdoors and natural world, inspired by the community events this Spring. You can also see all of the artwork produced by the community group in our exhibition at PRIMEYARC, Market Gates Shopping Centre in Great Yarmouth from 19th May to 20th June. You can find out more about the exhibition by visiting the Norfolk & Norwich Festival website.

Out and about

Here are some other places you can find the project:

Features

We were featured on Folk Features

We were also in the Gorleston Community Magazine

Events

You find information about our Exhibition and Conference on the Norfolk & Norwich Festival website.

Social Media

You can find the project on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

You can also sign up to our newsletter!

Yarmouth Springs Eternal: First Steps, Slow Looking and Capturing the Sun

Washing a cyanotype print (image credit_ Moyses Gomes)

the first steps…

After 8 months of planning, we put one foot in front of the other, and set out on our first community walk/workshop this Spring. To make this first step – in partnership with originalprojects; – there has been many months of behind-the-scenes fundraising, risk assessment reviewing and some rescheduling. Throughout the project, we will be working in collaboration between 13 artists or arts & support practitioners, 2 community audience partners and 5 funders. At the best of times, this is quite an undertaking, but in the context of the last few months I’ve certainly had a few sleepless nights! Yarmouth Springs Eternal was born out of hope and a desire to support people in Great Yarmouth, and beyond, to nurture their personal relationships with the nature found around them, and within them. 

For the first session, ably supported by our excellent Project Assistant Moyses Gomes, in my welcoming introduction I shared how this project is a response to the harshness and isolation experienced in the past year, both informed by personal experiences and wider collective experiences of inequality. I shared how the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other, when everything else feels out of control, has been my own coping mechanism during this period. And that walking, sometimes slowly over relatively short distances, would be our approach to connecting with the natural world however it presents to us during this project.

We began our first session with a question: ‘where would you go in Great Yarmouth to experience nature?’. This question developed from the EarthWalks training attended by the project artists, as we wanted to work from the participants’ own perspectives of local locations. There were some shared favourite places, such as Great Yarmouth cemetery and the beach. Some of the places suggested were described as having restorative effects, such as giving the individual a sense of ‘peace’, ‘tranquillity’ and space to be ‘alone with one’s thoughts’. These answers will inform the upcoming walks led by our visiting artists this Spring, as a way to get to know each other through personal relationships with a particular place, and to grow new memories together.

Finding inspiration above eye level (image credit_ Moyses Gomes)

We started our walk from our base at PRIMEYARC in Market Gates Shopping Centre, which is far from a calming place, with its artificial light and constant too-loud background music. Within the Centre, looking for nature was a challenge, but not completely barren. We saw plants on sale in shops, a slither of (grey) sky in the skylight spattered with bird mess, and a spider making webs above our heads. Even when we stepped outside, we had to hunt to discover as we took in the perimeter of the shopping centre on foot. Looking really low and high uncovered self-seeded plants in obscure places, and collectively we discovered the site of a Medieval gate squeezed between Poundstretcher and the closed down Taco Bell. It was the tuft of shrub that drew us in and the small plaque that gave us context.

Slowly and carefully with lots of drawing and talking stops, we ambled past KFC, where a buddleja shrub grew up high from the guttering by the bins. More and more tufts of green burst out as we crossed over to St George’s Park where we were guaranteed trees, flowers, birds and plantlife. The hundreds of daffodils gave us the colour we craved on a grey day. As we stopped at the war memorial, on which one of our group member’s relatives are named, a blue tit dashed onto the sign and quickly went again. All around us, the sound of seagulls squawking. Earlier in our introduction, one of our group members said St George’s Park was a place filled with significant memories from them and a place to reflect, so we made our way to his bench, noting and drawing all the living things as we went along. 

Spring bulbs in St George’s Park (image credit_ Moyses Gomes)

After our short circular drift around town, we stopped for lunch. In the afternoon, we turned the morning’s thoughts into photography negatives, using acetate sheets and marker pens, and prepared some cyanotype paper. Cyanotype photography is a technique I use often in my own arts practice and a method the group hadn’t experienced before, so it was exciting to share the magic. I was cautiously setting expectations when we set-up our pop-up studio at St George’s Park: ‘it’s a grey day’, ‘I don’t think I got the ratio of chemical right’, ‘we can always use these as collage materials next week!’. And, as I was worrying, the sun didn’t quite break through the clouds, but it glowed noticeably stronger and the chemical reaction between iron salt and UV happened. The group were really pleased with their hand-drawn and found object prints, and were excited to witness the process happen before their eyes, and so was I. 

As a reflective practitioner, I welcome feedback from the groups I collaborate with, asking: what worked? What didn’t? What shall we do more or less of next time? Therefore, to close the session, I invited the group to scribble down their thoughts on how the session went from their perspective.

After we said our goodbyes, one of our group members said she was initially unsure whether to come as she wanted to catch up on sleep, but she was very glad she made the effort as she loved the day, which made my day to hear! As Moyses and I cleaned and sorted the workshop materials after the group had left, we had big smiles on our faces (behind the masks and visors) when we read the unanimously positive anonymous feedback from the group. I came away feeling so uplifted and excited to see where the sessions would take us next time.

“I enjoyed everything; being amongst nature”

“Time went quickly”

“I enjoyed the activities and the environment”

“I feel like I achieved and created”  

“I am so happy I learned something new. It enriched me today”

Yarmouth Springs Eternal: Nurturing Skills and Growing Connections

Genevieve Rudd, Kaavous Clayton, Ligia Macedo, Georgie Manly, Jon Cree, Mell Harrison and Moyses Gomes at EarthWalks training on 29th March 2021 (image credit_ Moyses Gomes)

EarthWalks Training

Reflection by Genevieve Rudd

Our Yarmouth Springs Eternal artists spent the day at Green Light Trust this week taking part in EarthWalks training, led by Jon Cree and Mell Harrison. EarthWalks, as Jon explained in his potted history to introduce the day, is a branch of Earth Education. The wider movement was developed in the 1970s and can be found internationally. EarthWalks aims to facilitate four different thematic aims of the experience, to inspire Joy, Kinship, Love and Reverence.

EarthWalks definition

The EarthWalks approach has a set of guidelines to support the facilitator and participants. Jon’s own experience of this work spanning over three decades was to underpin the external understanding of ecology and earth crisis through internal felt experiences. He emphasised that the earth and us are simply made from Air, Water and Soil, and it’s this fundamental connection that can facilitate the all important ‘flow’ of an EarthWalk experience. For me, this became clearest when Mell drew the lines on the palms of our hands and, later in the workshop, we laid under a tree and connected the patterns with the branches above us.

Jon and Mell guided the training group through their own spin on EarthWalking, which expressed something about their personal identity and approach to leading the concept. We walked together and alone, in conversation and in reflective silence. We took a barefoot walk and a blindfolded one; experiencing Frithy Woods on our fronts, backs and up close (which made me grateful for a dry, sunny day!). Guided by our facilitators, together we used simple props to experience views in the tree canopy and shared memories linked to early nature-touch.

Finally, to draw the day to a close, our Yarmouth Springs Eternal group gathered by the campfire to consider how we could take these ideas out into the project and beyond. There were lots of ideas to absorb and after a day in the fresh air to blow the Lockdown cobwebs away, I think we all slept well that night!

What I’ll take away from the workshop is a menu of approaches that could inspire ‘nature connection’ over ‘nature contact’. I’m inspired to think about how these approaches could work in Great Yarmouth town centre, streets, parks, river and beach environments, as well as the woodland location we experienced during the training day. Also, there was an overall sense of resonance with the activities we engaged with. They felt similar to some of my trusty artist/educator warm-up techniques and aligned with the Beach School introductory training I’ve taken part in, so to connect the dots back with the Earth Education movement was interesting, and piqued my interest to wonder where its earlier roots are found… 

Further Training and a thank you

The team exploring. (image credit_course co-leader Mell Harrison originally posted here.)

The EarthWalks workshop attendance was funded as part of the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants fund, which is supporting the delivery of the Yarmouth Springs Eternal project, as well as other development and project support opportunities.

Over the Spring Equinox, also supported by the Arts Council fund, our project lead Genevieve Rudd took part in some additional training from Mayes Creative. The remote short course has featured photographers, artists and an archaeoastronomer exploring the light/shade dynamic of this time of year.

In addition, Genevieve has been accepted onto a clinical supervision programme for artists leading creative health & wellbeing projects from Arts & Health Hub over the next 6 months. This supervision will support Genevieve to project manage Yarmouth Springs Eternal with personal and professional support.

Whilst we’re still early on in the Yarmouth Springs Eternal project, the funding has been significant in helping to start to fulfil the project vision, whilst nurturing the practitioners involved.

#YarmouthSpringsEternal

Yarmouth Springs Eternal: The Creative Team

Saturday the 20th March marked the Spring Equinox and the start of this project. To kick us off we want to tell you all about the wonderful creatives, organisations and funders involved in bringing Yarmouth Springs Eternal to life.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Genevieve Rudd is leading Yarmouth Springs Eternal, an arts, walking and nature project in partnership with originalprojects; this Spring. The project’s overall ethos is exploring personal relationships to the natural world through contemporary arts, including a focus on the overlooked and everyday encounters.

We will explore these themes through a series of artist-led community walks/workshops with adults referred from Herring House Trust homeless charity and GYROS migrant support agency in Great Yarmouth, with adapted COVID safety plans in place. An exciting exhibition and conference will follow this. All events will take place at PRIMEYARC, a creative space led by originalprojects; in Market Gates Shopping Centre in Great Yarmouth. At the end of the project, a participatory arts and nature resource pack will be published.

Yarmouth Springs Eternal is funded by Arts Council England, Norfolk & Norwich Festival’s Creative Individuals Norfolk fund, East Anglia Art Fund, Norfolk County Council’s Arts Project Fund and Better Together Norfolk.

Who’s involved?

Genevieve Rudd leads this project in partnership with originalprojects.

Genevieve has worked as a freelance Community Artist since 2011 and is based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. She has developed projects with people in care homes, museums, galleries, libraries, youth clubs, schools, community festivals and in outdoor public spaces. In particular, Genevieve’s projects consider heritage, cultural and environmental themes. They encourage closer looking, enquiry through making and ask about the places and people around us.

originalprojects; is based in the East Coast town of Great Yarmouth and is currently overseen by artist-curator Kaavous Clayton and artist-facilitator Julia Devonshire. In 2002 originalprojects; was formed as an amorphous collective of artists who could work together to make things happen in Norwich.

Who is supporting?

Moyses Gomes will be the project assistant. He is currently doing a Masters degree in Moving Image and Sound at Norwich University of Arts. He was recruited through the Black & POC Creatives Network led by Sascha Goslin. This is a project funded by NNF Creative Individuals Norfolk fund which has funded part of this project.

Becky Demmen from Supporting Your Art will assist with social media and blog posts (like this one!) She will also be creating a video of the project.

Red Herring Press will be creating beautiful pieces of print for the project.

“highlighting the ‘overlooked’ and ‘everyday interactions’ with nature from diverse perspectives”

We’ll explore nature found on Great Yarmouth streets through the arts, encouraging people to get the recommended weekly health-giving ‘dose’ of 120 minutes outside. We want to show that a special connection with nature doesn’t just happen on a nature reserve far away, it can happen anywhere from your backyard, a local park or even the streets of our towns and cities.