My name is Emma Reynard, and I am the artist who worked on the Art on The Model project at New Bolsover in 2017.

Over the summer of 2018, I worked on a community project for Wirksworth Arts Festival. The commission was to engage with local people to create a new work inspired by three local wildlife sites. The finished artwork was to be exhibited at the festival in September.

Having a great personal interest in wildlife, conservation and natural history and being fairly new to the area, working on this project would be fascinating; discovering, researching and responding to the local history and wildlife sites around the area.

I proposed to create three panels (a triptych), using techniques and prosesses including drawing, painting, collage and decoupage. I felt that this would enable a wide range of people of all ages and abilities to be involved in creating a group piece which would be visually stimulating, colourful and would tell a story.

The panels would be plywood and hinged and varnished, to create a hard-wearing screen which could be displayed at the various events.

Three local groups had already been identified to work with. These included the local Junior school, a residential home and a local Walking for Health group. Each group was paired with a wildlife site to explore and interpret visually. I would be working with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who offered their time and expertise to support the research and lead a community walk for each site. Having the opportunity to share the wildlife and rare species of these very different sites, as well as explain about their cultural significance in the history of the area was vital for the design of the artwork.

Each group created a ‘panel’ with a specific habitat theme in response to the site that they were assigned to.

This project was grant funded by the DerwentWISE Landscape Partnership scheme (a 5-year Heritage Lottery funded programme) inspiring people to learn about and care for the special natural and industrial heritage of the Lower Derwent Valley.

The triptych celebrates the local wildlife and landscape history of The Gang Mine Nature Reserve, the Ecclesbourne River and Stony Wood Quarry.

The triptych celebrates the local wildlife and landscape history of The Gang Mine Nature Reserve, the Ecclesbourne River and Stony Wood Quarry.

Left-hand panel

Stony Wood Quarry – Waltham House (residents and Friends)

This panel explores the history of the old quarry. Starting with the fossil bed showing brachiopod, coral and crinoid fossils that are evident in the limestone-rich quarry rock.

The panel also illustrates the meadow and the flora and fauna discovered there today. Wildflowers such as scabious, buddleia, poppies, ox-eye daisy and hogweed can be seen and butterflies attracted to these such as the Common Blue, Large White and Peacock. Birds such as the stunning peregrine falcon and the beautiful swifts, which return to the site each year are also pictured.

The stone wall represents the Millennium Wall project, which you can see at The Stone Centre. The Dry Stone Walling Association from all over Britain built 19 different sections of dry stone wall in their own local materials and completed the Millennium Wall.

Centre panel

Ecclesbourne River – Wirksworth Junior School (year 4/5)

The pupils visited two parts of the river Ecclesbourne to compare the differences in scale, river flow and pollution. The Turnditch site, which was the wider, more flowing section and the smaller stream, that was nearer the river source.

The pupils enjoyed river dipping to see what they could discover, which included caddis fly and mayfly larvae and freshwater shrimp. You can see the meandering river and the other flora and fauna discovered in the environment. The alder trees arch over the river where they spread their roots into the damp earth.

The top half of the panel depicts the tree canopy found at the narrow stretch of the river, where the pupils shook the tree branches in search of minibeasts.

Right-hand panel

Gang Mine Nature Reserve – Walking for Health Group/ Friends & Trustees of Wirksworth Arts Festival

This panel illustrates the unique environment of the reserve, which is part of an ancient lead mining area. To the locals this space is named Humpty Dumpty due to the lead spoil heaps dotted around. Only a small number of plants are able to tolerate the high concentration of minerals. These include leadwort, alpine pennycress and the mountain pansy.

In the grassland you can see the occasional pyramidal orchid and thistles. Also illustrated is the dew pond, a traditional drinking place for livestock. This is a valuable habitat for amphibians, damselflies and plant life.

The ghostly image of the old lead mine shaft is visible and also the oldest representation of a miner ‘T’owld Man of Wirksworth’. This little figure of a lead miner with his pick and kibble, is said to be 800years old. You can find him embedded in the wall inside St Mary’s Church, Wirksworth.

About the author

Emma Reynard — Professional Artist

Emma Reynard is a practicing, professional artist with extensive experience of working in education and community arts. She has been devising and facilitating unique, inventive arts projects with young people and communities since 1994. She has significant experience with education groups of all ages and abilities. These range from conventional school groups and families through to special education groups.

 To find out more about Emma’s work please visit her website