We first met local residents from Cotton Mill Lane & Barton Court, when Lucy Touray from Barton HIll Settlement arranged for our studio to host resident meetings during the murder trial. The purpose of these meeting was to allow residents to discuss the trial and any concerns they may have with local police and each other. The sessions where really supportive and during this time we decided as a community to do somthing positive. We talked about how we could bring people togther to feel pride in their streets again. The empty green space at the end of Cotton Mill Lane was highlighted as an area that could become a focus for community action. We began talking about what we could do and how we could go about it. We booked in a community clean up day and arranged to run mosaic making workshops to give everyone a creative activity to make something togther for their houses.
The resdients have decided to create a 'Friends of Mill Park' asscociation, which will allow them as a group to look at other funding options to pay for development of the space.
We approached Fin McNab and James Sleigh to talk about our options for funding and developing Mill Park - we decided as a group to apply for DCLG Pocket Parks funding, it took alot of work to get our bid together and everyone worked really hard. Fingers crossed!
Everyone has been really busy this month. We were successful in gaining funding from the Wellbeing fund and are busy making giant decoartions to go up in Mill Park. We have found a local band to play carols and everyone is looking forward to the celebration!
Whilst we were waiting to hear back about the Pocket Parks funding, we decided to have alook at what we wanted to change about the space and what we could do to make it better. We looked at our 'inspiration board' which we have been building on through out the months and tried to focus on what was managable and most important to the group. We fed back our ideas to James who incorporated them into a design to give to the contractors.
We have been busy making flowers for a temproary welcome arch to go into the space whilst we wait for the real work to begin, Sally has been teaching us how to make big flowers out of found materials and we made an arch way out of hazel poles.
We have spent time in the space looking at where best to put things such as benches and raised beds. We talked to people using the park and noticed how people walked through, often dodging the mud as there is no proper pathway. We looked at where the sun hot so we could put our 'neighbourhood' bench in just the right place, and we admired all the spring bulbs we planted last year coming up!
This month we've been adding to our egg splat painting we made during Easter. We all saw flowers in the splat patterns and painted leaves and stems. We wanted to create some bright signage to go up next to the park, to let our community know that exciting things were happening and to add colour to the street. Bianca added a lovely saying that all all thought was rather apt to our projects values. "Sometimes you have to drop the rake and play in the leaves"
We were very lucky and received some funding from our local police service, We put some of the money towards a family day trip to Bristol Zoo. We wanted to look at the planting and get an idea of what planting schemes look good and what plants grow in our local climate. We did tonnes of research and had plenty of time for some fun! The weather was fantastic and we came away with some great ideas.
We have been meeting with residents every Thursday evening. We have decided to apply for our local Neighbourhood Wellbeing grant to raise money to host a celebratory event in Mill Park ( the residents picked the name) We all wanted to do something positive and felt that by decorating the park and hosting an event we could bring the community togther and highlight the positive action that has been taking place.
We started to look at what we could change to make the area more postive.
We used our pictures from Bristol Zoo gardens to make stamp prints. These where then used on flags destined for our local parade 'Pedley Medley'
We tried a technique called Ice Dying, to dye our fabric, then using fabric paint and our printing blocks, we created botanical designs. We added texture with squeezy paint and pens. They came out really well and looked fantastic in the parade, see our events page for more pictures! We plan on continuing our exploration of print making to help us make some design to use in the park.
Our new pathway was expertley installed by Laurel Landscapes. They did a great job and the community are really pleased. No more walking though mud to get to school! The new path is kind to the tree roots and designed to be easy to access for wheelchair and pram users. They also fitted a new gate which opens out onto cotton mill lane,
This month we had a go at ceramics! The group learnt how to slab & coil build with stoneware clay.
We took some time to reflect on how far we have come as a group over the past year and what we felt had happened. It was really positive. There has been a lot of new friendships made and there’s a real feeling of support within the group. The barriers between residents and artist have disappeared into genuine friendships. Everyone feels a sense of achievement and victory - hard effort and determination, paying off accomplishing a legacy for everyone.
We played around with some free pieces of oak we found - to have a look at layout for our stumps n steps. We took the oppertunity to plant some woodland bulbs along the new pathway too.
We used old pallets to make Christmas trees for the park, we dug out our birch branch stars and snowflakes and decorated the street.
Steph & Kerry start looking at colours & layout for the stumps n steps. They chose to work with concrete as its a hard wearing material that wont break down or rot like timber. It can take a bright colour which will last a long time and make the space look cheerful even in winter. Its also a very cost effective material to work with. They want to use the stumps as a natural barrier between the grass and the wild flower planting that is planned for later on in the parks development, they hope to surround the stumps with bark to add texture and act as a natural weed supressant.
Kerry and Steph get casting all 21 stumps and steppings stones (plus a few extras...!) for the park! They got very excited by the colour mixing! Will be finished off later in the Spring.
We welcomed some new families to a Mill Park half term art workshop. Hafsa would like to work more in clay, do some painting and is looking forward to doing some art projects at the studio. Yousif likes cars & painting and Muzon would love to try wood work and textiles! We look foward to working with these art enthusiasts in the near future.
Ally has begun putting togther the new welcome archway, which will sit on top of the oak sleepers on either side of the new gate. Local residents felt it was an important part of the spaces transformation to give the space a name and to have it offciated with a permanent sign.
Bianca and Steph have worked really hard to encourage local people to donate plants. Through social media and support from fellow studio memebrs they have planted an exciting array of hardy plants that are wildlife friendly and drought resistant.
As a group we've really enjoyed painting some large flowers onto the board the kids painted at the open day. We chose to paint images of some of the flowers we have planted in the park. Borage, Cosmos, Jacobs Ladder & Hollyhocks have all been donated by the public. Wendy picked a perfect Indian proverb that we all felt really resonated.
" All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today"
Its been a busy month this month getting everything ready for the park openinng. The young people really wanted to keep the spinny roundsabout so we found some money in the budget to put down a new wood chip surface and give it a fresh lick of paint, we also painted the boundry boulders, which give the space a much more cheerful and exciting look. Biancas bench went in and looks amazing. The stumps look fantatic and create a fun division between the grass and where we will be planting some lovely shade tolerant ferns and wildflowers.