Meadow art

© Lesley Cowley

Meadow art

There are a number of community and art projects inspired by the meadows to engage with communities, allow people to express what they feel is important and provide collaboration between artists, communities and scientists.

Whilst it is important to develop an understanding of the challenges we face, we need to motivate people with positivity and hope by celebrating the benefits and resilience floodplain meadows can deliver. Using art and creativity can do this, sharing messages to inspire and trigger emotional responses that can bring about lasting change.

Art can also convey messages that can help change views, for example in influencing policy work around floodplain meadows. Our arts and crafts calendar was sent to numerous MPs and policy officials for example.

How to set up your own art project – hints and tips

  • Its so important to have a realistic timescale from the initial idea through planning to point of delivery. This is where most projects fall down especially if there are time restricted grants involved.
  • Allow plenty of time to advertise the event -and to be able to do this you need to have already got to the stage of knowing in detail what is happening!
  • Aim for a sustainable project - consider the importance of having environmentally sustainable values built into project from practices to process and product.
  • Distinguish between key objectives and outcomes to be delivered to support these objectives. A great question to consider to help with focusing the key objectives is; what will success look like?
  • Set a broad theme as the hook to draw people in and help to explain your ideas
  • Remember that art does have to be a 'thing' – it can be a process, a performance or just a different way of thinking, and so there might not be a finished article, it depends on the outcomes of the project
  • One aim may be to engage people with science and research in which case you may want to consider how the art work connects/reflects the science topic. Does it help to enhance the ideas, help people to understand the science more clearly
  • Are you working together to create one artwork, or are you planning to show multiple individual pieces within one exhibition? If it's the former, how might individual contributions be recognisable within the whole? Does that matter? Sometimes with community projects people like to be able to pick out their contribution and this helps to build pride in and ownership of a collective outcome, which in turn can help to raise awareness as news spreads by positive word of mouth
  • Think about who you want to work with, how you reach them and the best spaces in which to co-create. This could be a local village hall, youth centre, public space, or even outdoors
  • If looking to work with groups or communities to co-create the artwork wherever possible, ensure these groups are part of the planning process for your project from the very beginning
  • Consider your audience and what aims you have for the art project. Is it aimed at all ages and abilities? What level of interaction and understanding are they looking for? The beauty of art is that there is no right or wrong answer, this can be very positive and unifying when working with new groups
  • Another consideration will be the venue/exhibiting space, where will it be displayed, who will this reach audience wise, where will it have most impact/engagement with your desired audience
  • Are you looking to use the artwork long-term? In which case you will need to provide wavers within any signed agreements
  • You will need to get signed permission slips completed if you want to use photographs of people within your marketing or social media posts about the project
  • Consider whether this is a project which would benefit from working with a professional body who already works with artists – almost like a matchmaking scheme. This is especially useful if you have limited experience or expertise with developing and running creative projects. They can help develop the brief for appointing the artists, manage contracts with those creative practitioners you eventually choose and help with the curation of the final pieces. They should also have contacts with relevant press and media networks useful for raising awareness. You should develop a brief for appointing the group setting out the project, budget, timetable and aims
  • Find your local arts organisations and build relationships with them, take time to talk about how they work, what their interests are and find out who they engage with – for example, are they interested in local radical history, do they work with particular groups or communities, do they have interest in activism or are they interested in the movement for wellbeing – knowing their focus helps in knowing who would be a good fit for particular project ideas
  • Does your chosen artist have experience of collaborating with community groups or scientists?
  • Budget wise you will need to consider the daily rates for artists will need to cover project management such as meetings and travel expenses
  • There are many useful places to find out more information and the Artists Information Company is a good place to start

And finally - Be prepared for twists and turns and try not to have too many set ideas about how things should turn out!

Find some fabulous artwork or see some of the meadow art projects we have been invovled in, by following the links.

Image of people making glass art
© Forest of Bowland AONB
Image of pupils creating meadow art in a classroom
Community art project in Gloucester 2022 - Flourishing Floodplains © Becs Greenaway

Winners of our arts and crafts competition held in 2021

  • Painting by Alice Walker - copyright Alice Walker
    'A precious resource' by Alice Walker
  • 'Seasons song' by Clare Cornish - copyright Clare Cornish
    'Season's song' by Claire Cornish
  • 'Time Cycle Repeat' by Jeff Coles - copyright Jeff Coles
    'Time Cycle Repeat' by Jeff Coles
  • 'Long Mead Kaleidocycle' by Jill Colchester - copyright Jill Colchester
    'Long Mead Kaleidocycle' by Jill Colchester
  • 'Long Mead, late June' by Julia Loken - copyright Julia Loken
    'Long Mead, late June' by Julia Loken
  • 'A beautiful climate solution' by Lesley Cowley - copyright Lesley Cowley
    'A beautiful climate solution' by Lesley Cowley
  • The Floodplain Meadow Hikau - copyright Sarah Caulfield
    The Floodplain Meadow Hikau by Sarah Caulfield
  • 'River' by Lesley Cowley
    'River' by Lesley Cowley
  • Triptych by Matthias Harnisch
    Floodplain Meadow Triptych by Matthias Harnisch
  • Image of a poem by VIcky Bowskill - copyright Vicky Bowskill
    'Forever Meadow' by Vicky Bowskill
  • Photo of text with botanic illustration by Maria Sergeeva (copyright Maria Sergeeva)
    'Studying meadows in Latin by a botanist' - © Irina Tatarenko (text) & Maria Sergeeva (image)
  • 'Meadow Grasses' Niki Kent - copyright Niki Kent
    'Meadow Grasses' Niki Kent
  • 'Restoration' by Mark Oversby
    'Restoration, Walk No.7' by Mark Oversby