Month of Wildlife
Throughout June, from the 4th to the 25th, Clayhill Arts celebrate the Month of Wildlife;
a key element of providing balance to the world’s ecosystem.
Wildlife provides our environment with pollination, natural pest control,
nutrients, beauty, education and so much more.
Biodiversity thrives at Clayhill Arts and that is why we want to use the month of June to highlight its importance and the role it plays in our little corner of Somerset. We are situated within 140 acres of arable farmlands and with 8 acres of gardens, Clayhill is the perfect place to escape and rejuvenate. The surrounding landscape creates a sense of freedom, giving our guests and wildlife an opportunity to explore!
Before we started building Clayhill, we carried out a thorough ecological survey to see what was living on-site and nearby to see what we could do to mitigate any disturbances created by the build; resulting in finding a number of bats, owls and swallows! We waited to start building until after any animals on-site had ended their winter hibernation – we even had an ecologist on-site when we carried out work that could have disturbed any animals that had made the building their home. At Clayhill, we always focus on the wildlife.
We incorporated a number of habitats that can be seen as part of the building and around the Clayhill site. These include bat roosts built into the walls and roof tiles, barn owl boxes and swallow cups on the western edge of the studio. We also kept outside lighting around the site at a minimum, to maintain our local dark sky; especially on the lane as this is a natural bat corridor. We continue to monitor ecology on-site and act as a release site for rescued animals from the Secret World Wildlife Rescue centre. We really do everything in our power to respect the wildlife around us and contribute our help as much as we can. We have also set up numerous motion sensor cameras around the site, to capture the wildlife in their most natural moments.
As we said, wildlife is about providing balance for our environment and at Clayhill we aim to do the same; by keeping our environmental policy in mind and utilising our surroundings, but more importantly, by appreciating what we have at our doorstep. This includes supporting our farming network and local suppliers – Somerset’s heritage means everything to us and we wanted to keep that alive when repurposing the buildings and grounds. We embrace the fact that we’re located within farmlands and based within an old farm, which heavily influenced and inspired us.
This inspiration continues with what goes on here at Clayhill – from career support, events and artist residencies to exhibitions and our bespoke Residential course programme, there is always something creative happening. We always keep in mind that this environment and beautiful landscape have enabled us to give our community and wildlife a place to flourish!
Clayhill Arts are passionate about supporting creative careers; offering freedom to escape and allowing those to gain perspective on creativity by exploring individual potential. This also applies to our wonderful and dedicated team; allowing them to choose and have a say in their career path and development; to support our staff in every aspect.
As we’re highlighting Wildlife this month and in the blog post, we of course have to bring our attention to our hardworking gardener and groundskeeper, Chris! Chris has been working with us here at Clayhill since July 2017. With 8 acres of garden, a lake, forest and much more to manage, there was quite a lot to learn for this first time gardener!
Seeing the landscape evolve and transform reflects Chris’ dedication and many achievements; appreciated by the Clayhill community and the wildlife! To celebrate this, this year we are taking part in the National Garden Scheme open day, by opening our gardens to the public to raise money for charity.
Tickets are available now, so make sure to come and join us for this special day and enjoy a nice cuppa!
At Clayhill Arts, we support and encourage residencies; offering artists and creatives to live and work outside of their usual environments; providing them with time to reflect, research and produce new work.
During June, graphite artist Louisa Crispin will be taking part in a self-funded residency at Clayhill Arts, during our National Garden Scheme open day to develop her Flight Path Community Project. Make sure to come along, so you can see the work she has been creating!
Lost in a world of intricate observations from nature.
At Clayhill Arts, all our courses have been developed to enhance your creative skills, expand your network and elevate your business practice. Through a combination of year-round research into the creative industries and regular discourse with our audience, we have developed our programme to be at the cutting edge of arts education. We want to keep your learning connected to the ever-changing world around us, so we choose a different theme for each year. Our themes form an important part of our overall educational offering and are celebrated throughout the year in our messaging.
The theme for our 2022 programme is ‘Our Environment’. We have lots of nature and wildlife inspired courses, including several sustainable-focused courses such as Working with Earth pigments with Claire Benn.
Later in the year, we will be hosting an observation course with Chris Wallbank and Nik Pollard where participants will be Drawing The Natural World, followed by utilising our landscape and fallen trees to make your very own charcoal with Lotte Scott, to then experiments and draw with. Lotte has taken part in 2 residencies with Clayhill – the first being digital, focusing on the 5 senses, during the pandemic and then an in-person residency; for her to explore and respond to the site before delivering her course
Our previous nature-based courses included Botanical Illustration with Lucy T Smith, where the participants visited Spaxton Road Apiary, local beekeepers that are a part of the Somerset Beekeepers’ Association, located just on the horizon of Clayhill Arts. We had London-based illustrator Sakina Saïdi take part in the course and also produced a piece of artwork in response to her stay here, so make sure to head on over to her Instagram and check out her story highlights for behind the scenes!
Each participant got to take away a jar of honey, produced by the bees, as a very sweet Somerset memento – quite literally!
Towards the end of May, we had a Drawing for Pattern Design course with renowned designer and entrepreneur, Rachael Taylor, which was Inspired by Nature!
Lucky to have such a fabulous group, amazing food, fab views & stunning weather! Such a beautiful venue & such a beautiful group of creatives.
Will always treasure the memories of this trip.
Rachael Taylor, Renowned designer, entrepreneur and tutor.
I had the loveliest 3 days and left feeling refreshed and creatively inspired and looking forward to returning again soon for more creative nourishment.
Overall, our main objective is to create a space that will be a haven for wildlife. It is well documented that many of our native species have declined in recent years, so we want to make sure we look after everything that lives here or is visiting – not only at Clayhill Arts but as the world.