Woodworker & Potters Use Storm Blown Trees To Raise Funds For Nature Reserve

  • Spring Fling offers a chance to discover artists’ inspirations 
  • Visit a dozen Red Route studios from Lochmaben to Langholm 
  • Four days to tour up to 96 studios across Dumfries and Galloway 

A Spring Fling furniture maker and two ceramicists are joining forces to raise money and awareness for the urgent £2.2m community fundraising drive to buy 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor and make it a nature reserve.

Daniel Lacey, and Cumbria-based Siobhan and Martin Miles-Moore, are using timber from trees blown down in the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve (TVNR) during Storm Arwen, to make pieces of woodwork and pottery that will be raffled during the open studios weekend.

Miles-Moore Ceramics are exhibiting at Daniel’s workshops in Langholm as part of the Spring Fling Neighbours Scheme which invites artists and makers from regions adjoining Dumfries and Galloway to take part.

This year’s event, from 2-5 June involves 96 studios across the region, a dozen of them in the east, from Lochmaben and Lockerbie to Langholm and Eskdalemuir. 

Daniel is closely involved with the TVNR project which has already secured more than 5,000 acres of land, but has a matter of weeks to raise the money needed to buy another 5,300 acres and double its size.

He said: “Our hope is that by making and raffling some small pieces during Spring Fling we can raise a little money and a lot of awareness for the TVNR buyout project.”

Daniel has been doing volunteer work collecting and cutting wood from windblown beech, rowan and birch trees within the reserve using his mobile sawmill. The sawdust has been given to the Miles-Moores who burn it and use the ashes to make glazes for their pottery.

Miles-Moore Ceramics like to use “found and foraged” materials in their glazes and to create work that tells stories about intriguing places.

In the past they have used conservation wood ash from Warton Crag Nature Reserve which Siobhan’s mother Jennifer played a significant role in setting up and managing.

Siobhan said: “The more people know about a nature reserve, the more likely they are to value it, but the first thing we need to do is attract attention to what makes it special. Being connected to nature has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing and in a world of COVID, we all need more of that.”

After meeting Daniel in 2017 they became increasingly interested in the conservation projects he was involved with, including TVNR.

Martin said: “We have spent a lot of time talking about the conservation projects Daniel is involved in.”

The trio now hope to gather communities of artists around specific nature reserves, to make use of materials, from felled or fallen trees through to relocated stone or flood and storm materials.

Martin says: “Scientists and conservationists have their own language about nature, but artists communicate in different ways and attract different audiences. We have a valuable part to play in engaging people with nature in all her glory, as well as telling her stories.”

Spring Fling visitors can follow colour-coded routes round the studios. The Red Route includes artists and makers working in wood, painting, mixed media, printmaking, jewellery and ceramics.

They are:

  • Jesse Ball – jewellery
  • Minette Bell MacDonald – painting
  • Bella Green – painting
  • Daniel Lacey – woodwork/furniture
  • Rory Laycock – installation
  • Liz McQueen – painting
  • Miles-Moore Ceramics – pottery
  • Gloria Newlan – painting
  • Lisa Rothwell-Young – jewellery
  • Cathy van Hoppe – illustration
  • Margaret Walty – painting
  • Jackie Zehnder – ceramics.

Joanna Jones, Upland Assistant Director, one of the organisers of this year’s Spring Fling, said: “As Daniel, Siobhan and Martin prove, so many of our artists and makers have a deep love of the landscapes around us and want to bring us close to the natural world.

“They also underline how one of the most magical things about Spring Fling is the chance to meet artists and makers and discover the fascinating people, and inspirations, behind their work.

“All along the Red Route, and throughout all 96 studios selected to take part in this year’s open studios event, visitors will have the chance to discover many other remarkable people and places.”

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