Hundreds of origami paper cranes, professional silk paintings, jewellery, sculpture and painting are now on show at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre.
Visitors to WWT Slimbridge can see the exhibition featuring the crane artwork in the foyer until 3 September.
The Great Crane Art Project and exhibition is commissioned and curated by Somerset Art Works. Emerging artist Lucy Lean led paper crane workshops with communities in Somerset and Slimbridge, with participants ranging from school age to pensioners. These cranes now take form as an exciting new installation, devised by Lucy for WWT Slimbridge She is interested in patterns, the natural world and form, and the installation draws inspiration from these things. Cranes disappeared from the Somerset Levels 400 years ago, and in the spirit of women working on carpets and patchwork at the time, the installation will form a stitched together ‘tapestry’. Several Somerset community groups, a number of schools and many individuals have contributed to this large-scale collaborative installation, making origami cranes using maps donated by Taunton Hydrographics Offices to reflect the journeys that cranes make. This is displayed alongside professional artists’ work, all inspired by the Somerset Cranes.
The show is inspired by the Great Crane Project, a partnership between WWT, RSPB and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, with major funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company. Cranes are wonderful, iconic birds that are sadly missing from many of their former wetland haunts in the UK. They were lost as a breeding bird around 400 years ago as a result of the draining of their wetland nesting sites, and hunting for food. To get these birds back and breeding again within the UK requires the careful hand-rearing of young birds from wild-sourced eggs. The rearing is undertaken in a purpose built ‘school’ WWT Slimbridge. At around five months old the birds are then transported to Somerset and released where they will be very closely monitored as they learn to adapt to the rigours of life in the wild. Around 20 young birds will be hand-reared and released each year, with 100 birds planned to be released by 2015.
Beccy Swaine, Project Co-ordinator at Somerset Art Works said: “The exhibition is the culmination of the wonderfully diverse imagination of Somerset local and artistic communities. Socially engaged practice runs throughout the Great Crane Art Project to build stronger communities, connecting people and places through creativity.”
Lucy Lean, lead artist for Somerset Art Works on the Great Crane Art Project said: “ Cranes are such a positive symbol and it has been inspirational to work creatively with communities.”