From 2006 to 2010 the Festival worked in partnership with the Living River project to raise awareness about the river and wetland environment in the Salisbury area by involving local communities in creative art projects. The projects worked with a broad spectrum of the local community including children, apprentices at Qinetiq’s Boscombe Down facility, people with learning disabilities, families and older people.
The diverse range of activities included an outdoor theatre performance and an audio archive and creating outdoor sculptures. These new experiences provided opportunities for people to explore their surrounding environment in an innovative and imaginative way.
REverberAVON created an Audio Archive as part of the Living River project, which interviewed over 50 people including musicians and poets on their thoughts and memories of the River Avon. The archive was accessible at six locations across Salisbury during the 2007 Festival period, with the sound boards finding permanent homes in some city centre locations and nearby nature reserves. Attendees of the archive launch heard river-inspired poetry readings from a local and nationally published poet.
The River is Revolting included eight workshops that involved 200 children held with schools and pre-schools in Downton, Morgans Vale and Salisbury. Children made dragonflies to bring to the performance for an ‘emergence’ finale, with three free shows attracting audiences of over 200 attendees per day.
Liquid Shapes worked with children and local people to draw on the beautiful inspirations and rich resources of their surrounding river environment to create striking, innovative pieces of sculpture.
The project commissioned three sculptures completed with engineers Qinetiq at Solstice Park as part of the 2007 Festival. The Dragonfly, the Mallow and the River Avon can all be seen as part of the Sculpture Art Trail at Solstice Park.
Artist Matthew Cutts worked with 60 children at Sarum St Paul’s School to create a number of sculptures created from material found in the River Avon, which are permanently displayed in Sarum St Paul’s school grounds.
All 159 pupils of Broadchalke Primary School were involved in creating The Wild Child of the Chalke, a 3m x 2m mural for their new school building. The huge enthusiasm for the project from teachers, pupils and the wider community resulted in a creative arts week later being held at the school.
Artist and sculptor Olivia Keith and Sarah Yarrow of the Living River project worked with members of the Blue Skies Club at Elizabeth House over eight sessions in February 2008 to create a natural sculpture as a centre piece for the garden. Activities included weaving indoors for ornaments hanging on the sculpture, weaving outdoors to create the sculpture, collection of materials for the sculpture, planting and looking after the seeds and making bird feeders. 22 members participated in the activities over the eight weeks with some involved in every session. Staff of Elizabeth House and carers also participated and took part in creating the sculpture.
The Living River project is a partnership project between Natural England, Salisbury District Council, Salisbury International Arts Festival, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Hampshire County Council, Wessex Water and Environment Agency and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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