City girl guides meet water, mud & paint
I met eight very excited girl guides and their guide leaders half way down the drive, arms filled with bags and coats and all wearing big smiles - no apprehension here!
After getting to know each other we set off – with Jo who would be running the pond dipping session to let out the chickens and collect the eggs. “Are they supposed to be flying out of the field?” “Yes – they are very free range!” “Does this egg have a baby chick in it?” Followed by a long explanation by me about fertilisation! “Can I catch a chicken” Lauren called as she chased one into the trees. The guides were clearly very happy to be here!
Down in the shallow stretch of the River Hindwell, where for many years the cattle have frequented it as a drinking hole and crossing place – we hunted for water creatures – and we discovered fresh water shrimps, water boatmen, may flies, stone flies, caddis flies and snails.
Wellies filled with water, clothes got wet, wellies stuck in ankle deep mud.
Nets were used to search the beautiful flower covered stretches of the shallows. Guides laughed and whooped and shouted –loving the freedom and the excitement of exploring.
After lunch and goodbye and thanks to Jo fpr the pond diping session, we visited the gallery and Nolan’s studio where masses of questions were asked as the girls made sense of the paintings.
Our painting workshop that followed was certainly inspired by what they had seen and a new found love of mud. Earth pigment paints, that I had made up earlier, were smeared on paper and hands and arms – the guides were truly embracing this new found creative freedom!
This is the most exciting part of my work in learning - seeing how people respond to the opportunity to create. The group settled and began their own separate paintings on the boards I had provided. They painted, stencilled, flicked and splashed the paint, they moved it around with their fingers, talking about colour and patterns and composition. It was magic.
Ready for home and the girls talked about how they loved the river and the painting. “How much does it cost to come here? I want my school to raise money to bring us here again”. “Can we take a chicken home?”
The Sidney Nolan Trust is grateful to Katrina Preston of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, Sam Goddard from Rooted Forest School and Jo Dainty for their pond dipping expertise, and Tom Kelly of Community Transport.