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By: Carol Ramsay
Thought I would start a separate blog about the trials and tribulations of my residency at the Butterfly Park.
The next 18 months are sure to have highs and lows, maybe even some tears and tantrums but will hopefully prove to be very exciting.
# 47 [18 October 2011]
I know the MA is finished now but I'm staying with the Butterfly Park on the committee as a Board Member now. I got so passionate about the place that I can't leave.
So I have applied for two lots of funding. The first one has 6 days left of voting, anyone can sign up and vote, you get 3 votes so have a look at your local projects too!!
At time of writing I have 99 votes, 100 would be lovely.
MANY more would be fantastic. If we do win some money we can put on a whole lot of fabulous workshops in the Butterfly Park next summer.
Here's the link.
The Empty Shops Project held a vote within the local area forum. All the applicants gave a 3minute presentation and were allowed to answer 3 questions from those attending.
It was terrifying but I have done my best for the park and can only hope now. This could potentially be a fantastic project. It would allow me to take on a shop in New Ferry, promote the Butterfly Park and have 6 artists in residence over the course of the project with a pot of money for each artist and enough money to pay for artists and more to give further (free) workshops on site.
The local people would benefit tonnes, not just art workshops but local history, environmental, greening the community... planting sessions, butterfly attracting plants all over New Ferry. I really want a New Ferry Butterlfy Town ultimately, can you imagine it?
My bit is done.
I don't find out until January and we are up against some great projects bidding. I am keeping fingers and toes firmly crossed.
# 46 [9 September 2011]
What a week....
Schools back, started my new job, took the caravan visitor centre up to Preston to see the external assessor, set up an Arena drawing exhibition in Bankley Studios, Manchester and .....got my MA results!!!
I got a Distinction, can't quite believe it but I am really thrilled.
Our MA show is really strong, considering there areonly 8 of us. It is on this week in Hanover Building, off Kirkham Street, Preston and the PV is 5-8pm this Wednesday, all welcome. I must buy some wine for the caravan so we can have our very own PV as we'll be parked outside (away from the bar).
Also at 2am this morning I submitted a bid for funding for an Empty Shops Project in New Ferry to continue and enhance the project. I think this could just be the beginning.
# 45 [24 August 2011]
I forgot to mention that I have a new job too :)
I leave Liverpool Biennial next week after 4 fantastic years to be 'Activity Plan and Volunteer Manager' at a Heritage restoration site in Kensington, Liverpool. A beautiful old Jewish cemetery that is being restored to its former glory for the local community to use in as a space in the future.
I'm pretty sure the Butterfly Park project played a big part in my getting the job which is so great.
And its only part time which means I can still stay on as volunteer board member at the Butterfly park and do whatever I can to help out in the future.
I'm already fundraising to do workshops next summer, keeping everything crossed and public vote starts 26 September here:
# 44 [23 August 2011]
Sorry to have been awol for a while.
So busy writing my contextual report it's untrue. However - it's done!!!
Can't quite believe I'm saying that, published online through Blurb, people can buy a copy, not that anyone will want to except perhaps for my family haha.
I sent the link to the Board of the Butterfly Park and they really loved it, in fact they did buy a copy to have as a reference and archive of the project.
Paul emailed the link around to the whole team and to Cheshire Wildlife Trust to let them see what we have achieved there over the last 18 months.
It's so fantastic to see it all in print, the copies arrived yesterday and holding it was a surreal moment, so glad it's finished and yet my work with the Butterfly Park isn't I hope.
I've asked to stay on the Board and work with them as a volunteer for as long as they'll have me, it's such an amazing place and I love being part of it.
In July I did a good few workshops with local schoolchildren, taking them on tours of the park and then making all kinds of butterflies out of sandwich bags, paper, found objects. Great fun.
I received a pile of thankyou letters from one class, really touched me to the point that I included some of them in my thesis. That's what it's a been about for me, the people, it is a wonderful place and I am very passionate about helping to save it but the people have become really important, all of the volunteer team and the visitors, the kids, the traders, all in their own way have really helped and been an influence on this whole project.
I hand in my thesis on 30th August, set up the exhibition the following week (though my part in this is just a few framed map type illustrations as how can you exhibit a site that's so far away?) and then 14th September up to Preston with the caravan visitor centre for the Private View of our MA show.
Then it's over.
# 43 [4 July 2011]
Been quite busy reading and writing for my final Contextual Report and drawing too, I find I write too much so have been advised that the old adage 'a drawing speaks a thousand words' is one that will work well in this instance.
I've been spending some quality time in the butterfly park too but am slightly disappointed that there is some slight vandelism to my caravan.
Probably teenagers, how do I know, because the writing was a bit childlike and they can't spell. Txt talk graffiti on the walls - what's that all about?? and in Sharpie pen - permanent markers that they then stole!!
They've also torn one of my little artist books, just pulled out all the cutwork and ripped all the little gas lamp up, I loved that lamp :(
I can make another book and paint over the walls but I'm not sure the lamp can be fixed unfortunately.
Wonder if I can claim on my AIR insurance, I took out the extra cover after all.
On the Plus side, we won our court case, FINALLY. It's still a bit up in the air but basically we now have the green light to press forward with the Council for a compulsory purchase order so that the Butterfly Park can continue as a nature reserve. It's a huge relief for all concerned.
As one of our Facebook followers said to the news "When the might of business comes up against the fragile beauty of a butterfly, and those souls faithfully devoted to protecting it... the butterfly will win"
I love that people are so passionate about the place, me included.
Also this week I've organised 3 school workshops up at the park and 2 workshops for adults.
One drawing and one photography, I'm really looking forward to seeing how these go actually. I'm not having a taught session at all, more a group of like minded people meeting up to do what they love most and then sitting over tea + cake to discuss the outcomes. You're all more than welcome to join in, and they're free too :)
# 42 [22 June 2011]
Mapping is actually harder than I first thought and yet very therapeutic.
Mind map first, working out what I've done, where I did it, who helped, who's linked to who etc etc.
It actually does help to clarify things and then as it was just boxes + lines I just had to do another one that looked pleasing to the eye. I mean, what's the point of a mind map if you don't like to look at it.
That done I'm now wondering whether to go further and actually colour it in, or am I just getting carried away now?
The map we have of the park now is VERY basic to say the least, I mean it does it's job - its a map but again, not exactly pleasing to look at. However the team seem to think it's ok and who am I to argue, it's their park after all but I needed to do a new map for me, even if no-one else ever uses it and so I did and then as it's just for me why not go all out and make it co-ordinate with new all singing all dancing mindmap and so that's exactly what I did.
It's even in scale, are you impressed?
I spent 2 days pacing out each bit of the park and re-checking. 1cm to 10 paces - that's a scale of sorts...right?
I couldn't quite fit on every type of insects, birds or plants we have on site, there are way too many but I managed to get a fair few of the favourites in at least.
# 41 [16 June 2011]
Ok just found out this blog is in the top 10 artists blogs on a-n so now I feel guilt ridden for not updating...sorry :( Thanks to those people who do take time to read this, I always seem to forget real people read what I write. Always quite shocked (pleasantly surprised) when I receive a comment.
In my defence I've been up the wall busy..honestly.
However to update now, I'm busily setting up some workshops, I'd like to have a photography one but we can't get funding to bring over the lady I'd like to have, it's across the other side of the country and even if we charged a fee to pay her what if the people didn't pay up or turn up.
So I'm a bit along the lines of trying to get a local photographer to run a day and then by next year if all is well with the land ownership issues, we can fundraise to do things like this and actually pay the artists a proper fee, that is my ideal.
One of our artists was going to run a paper kiln making day where people could paint pre made pots and fire them at the park, it sounded fantastic but again, he had to pull out due to needing to get paid work.
So I'm up for ideas but I'm doing some drawing days myself and a few children's workshop days too and I think I'm going to have to realise that I've actually achieved quite a lot already this last 2 years and all this will stand us in good stead to apply to fund more for next year.
I have 3 school workshops set up and am trying to organise taking the caravan and/or mobile allotment to 3 local fete days just to draw more attention to the park.
I'm also mapping, Saturday will be spent pacing out and drawing a new map of the park for me to use, one that's not quite so basic as the presently used one and I've been doing some mind maps too - recommended by my tutors and found it's really helped for me to see how far it's all come, how far I've come since my initial idea of producing "A" piece of work for the butterfly park.
# 40 [24 May 2011]
I am obviously becoming addicted to vintage caravans, when I said in my last post that every city should have it's own caravan artwork I meant it - now I have come across this little gem opening in June 2011.
Huttenpalast in Berlin, an old warehouse, transformed into a hotel by going vintage. Each *bedroom* is a vintage caravan or hut of some form.
What a simple and yet amazing idea.
I'm loving it :)
I want to build a hotel now too.
I'm not sure if I've posted this either but here's a link to the facebook photo's showing my caravan visitor centre from murky start to sparkly finish.
# 39 [18 May 2011]
I am loving twitter lately, found so many great people + ideas to follow. (inc @artists_talking obviously)
I tweet as @cazramsay but also for the Butterfly Park as @wirralbutterfly.
I've found @wearecaravan today. An Edinburgh based gallery/creative space in a caravan http://wearecaravan.tumblr.com/
With them + the caravan gallery (@caravangallery) and my own wee visitor centre caravan we are invading the art world, maybe this will be a new thing.
The caravan gallery have been going for a few years now and are really successful, maybe they have set a precedent and more restored caravan creative spaces will come out of the woodwork.
Every city should have one :)
Also discovered @allotinabox which does exactly what it says on the box - it's an allotment (well, all the seeds you need to start one) in a box. I'm going to look into this more, would be great to be able to hand out allotinaboxes when I'm out + about with the mobile allotment, obviously only if some of the plants tie in with our butterfly/bee attracting ideal.
# 38 [16 May 2011]
Exhaustion has led to me not updating my blog - apologies.
The New Ferry Butterfly Park Open Day last week was fantastic, the caravan was finished in time and the day went really well.
Amazingly well, we had over 500 visitors during the afternoon.
Our local MP, Alison McGovern opened the caravan visitor centre officially and really seemed to love all the work, which is great.
My lecturers came and one of the ladies from my MA course, an old family relative I'd never met that my dad hadn't seen for 50 years turned up after finding out about it on facebook - quite remarkable.
Lots of the local shops sponsored the day in some way and so many of the people attending lived close by and yet still I had people saying 'I never even knew this place existed'.
The headmistress of the school that i have been doing all the workshops with came by and loved seeing all their work in one place. I recognised a good few of the kids too.
A few people approached me about doing art workshops in their schools and I've made some great contacts for workshops in the park over the summer.
The artists all got their work up for the trail in time and ALL of them looked fabulous, so many positive comments flying around.
4 of the art stall holders let me down, one I knew about a few weeks before which was absoloutely fine, 2 let me know a few days before and one just didn't bother turning up, how rude! When I emailed her afterwards to check all was ok I got a one line email saying, 'sorry got my dates mixed up'.....that was it.
As it happens the artists who did come along were all so good we didn't need the others, the work on the tables was beautiful and I just wish I had some money left to actually buy some for myself.
The caravan did look really professional by the end,(unrecognisable compared to when I started) some friends came to help that last 2 days for one last push and one (thanks Julie) stayed with me til midnight the night before to help with the artifying of it all.
It was very well used during the day, lots more childrens drawings to add to our display folders. Success and such a relief!!!!
I have spent all week trying to recover but amidst a hospital visit (I dropped a table on my foot on the open day), work, a studio Open night (light night)and making work for a charity fundraising day and a *different* charity art auction I failed to succeed with any rest so this week I will mainly be catching up with some sleep.
Recently completed a Fine Art BA with First Class Honours at Wirral Metropolitan College. Now studying part time at UCLAN Preston for an MA in Fine Art, Site + Archive Intervention, whilst being a full time Mum to two young boys, holding a residency at New Ferry Butterfly Park and working Part time as a Public Art Programme Assistant with Liverpool Biennial.