Bug Houses at Hellens Garden Festival 2020

Bug Houses at Hellens Garden Festival 2020

 

How could I resist?

When Hellens Manor invited me to provide a piece for their sculpture trail I just had to say ‘Yes!’ The Manor has been described by Country Homes Magazine as ” The jewel in the crown of Herefordshire homes”. It’s a privately owned Tudor house set in atmospheric grounds and I have enjoyed many happy visits there.

About Hellens

Hellens Garden Festival hosts an annual fund raiser for two charities: St Michaels Hospice and Back to the Wild. It takes place over a weekend and showcases the best of local growers, producers, makers and foodies. Speakers, interactive demonstrations and music make for a very engaging event. Very well supported locally, the event has an enjoyable and celebratory atmosphere. I’ve had loads of fun running  free pottery workshops under the guise of Eastnor Pottery for years!

The Festival aims to celebrate the natural world and has an educational approach to local and global issues. The inspiring title forthis year’s event is ‘Together We are the Seeds of Change’.

 

slipware ceramic bug house by sarah monk ceramics in white with cobalt blue dots on a shelf in front of a green plate
holding a wet clay slipware bug house in the studio of sarah monk ceramics
eastnor pottery studio shelves with slipware bug houses by sarah monk ceramics

Inspiration

To begin my designing, I looked at the gardens: the ancient orchards, woodland trees. Hellens Manor has a team of dedicated gardeners concerned with conservation. I felt strongly whatever I was going to create needed to be functional in some way…. it needed to be caring! Clay is the perfect material for this project, it’s abundant and it comes straight from the earth.

My initial thought was to make a bird house, so I set about making a clay maquette (a small scale prototype). I discovered the small scale had a charm and an intimacy all of it’s own. My thoughts turned to the smaller creatures of the forest….. creepy crawlies!

The results ended up as a series of little ceramic houses. Insect dwellings which I’ve filled with hay, tiny twigs and seeds. Small hidey holes for bugs to dwell or hibernate. They’re designed to hang in trees or outside spaces. My intention is to display them in a tidy row, like houses in a street. Each house has been decorated differently in surface and colour. The idea that we live side by side in a world where we are able to protect each other and the world around us is a good one:

‘Together We Are The Seeds of Change’.

 

five pottery bug houses hanging on a branch with dappled sunlight
close up of three sarah monk ceramic bug houses hanging in the garden with leaves behind
brushed sea green bug house on a white shelf

When?

Hellens Garden Festival runs on the 22nd & 23rd August 2020 and is situated in the village of Much Marcle near Ledbury. Details about the Sculpture Trail here. They also have a Facebook page and Instagram.

Ceramic Rabbit in Puzzle Wood.

Ceramic Rabbit in Puzzle Wood.

Making ceramic bunnies is not my usual bag I admit, but when Helen, from Puzzle Wood put a call out to local Potters to contribute to her  Rabbit trail I couldn’t resist! Puzzle Wood is a magical ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean. It’s a great place to explore with the kids, as we have done many times with our own and is a popular TV and film location. Helen’s idea was to launch a kid’s trail over the usually busy Easter weekend.

I started making my contribution back in February, deciding to hand coil it. A technique I never ever use, but thought it would be fun to do something different. I used terracotta clay because it has a deep, earthy colour very fitting for a rich, earthy forest. Once built, I covered the whole rabbit in white slip and then scratched into it with simplified flowers and splatters of cobalt blue. I wanted it to be blue & white; a classic ceramic pallet that would stand out against a backdrop of forest green.

Unfortunately because of the pandemic, Puzzle Wood closed to the public. Helen decided to continue her plans in a different way and turned it into The Great Virtual Puzzle Wood Easter Trail!! Available to view on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

There’s a colouring competition too, with lots of great prizes, including a couple from us here at Eastnor Pottery!

 

My Studio at Eastnor Pottery

My Studio at Eastnor Pottery

I love my studio.  Nestled below the Malvern Hills, on The Eastnor Castle Estate and just 2 miles from the charming market town of ledbury it’s the perfect location. The building itself has character. It’s a listed building, over 200 years old held together with blacksmith nails, wattle & daub, wooden beams and thick stone walls, made contemporary by painting the interiors bright white and vibrant blues. Eastnor Pottery was once a domestic dwelling, a quaint little bungalow comprising of 2 bedrooms (now office and kiln room), a living room (now reception room & studio space) , the outside loo (now the clay store), boiler shed (shop & extra studio space). The Eastnor Castle Estate Company kindly knocked a door through into an adjacent farm building to create our largest studio space which we call the Main Studio.

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