Wild Art! comes to Rose Hill

Steve Larkin

"Wild Art" that has been created by the Rose Hill community under the guidance of local poet Steve Larkin and visual artist Mani is set to be unleashed at Rivermead Nature Park this weekend.

The vibrant works of poetry, mural, rock painting, stories, and sculpture which were conceived and built at Rose Hill Primary School and the adjacent community centre celebrate the diversity and beauty of the nearby reserve.

Rivermead, which is managed by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and Oxford City Council is an oasis of greenery and a home for an increasing array of wildlife that is tucked between the Eastern Bypass and the River Thames.

The Wild Art project has been made possible with funding from Thames Water and Oxford City Council. It is part of BBOWT's Wild Oxford campaign which aims to create a more resilient network of wildlife habitats across the city which will benefit Oxford’s natural heritage and improve people’s access to nature.

Rivermead Nature Park Toad TARDIS

Steve Larkin

“We are very excited to be working with local artists and Rose Hill Primary School to help promote Rivermead Nature Park as a safe and fun place for people to visit,” says BBOWT’s Community Wildlife Manager, Andy Gunn.

“We hope that people will come and enjoy the reserve and feel inspired to get involved in our Wild Oxford Project in the city through volunteering or simply by getting out there and appreciating the amazing ‘Hidden gems’ we have around the city.”

The site boasts natural fen land responsible for carbon sequestration, and a deep water pond which is home to large numbers of toads, frogs and newts.

The aquatic habitat has given rise to the Rose Hill youth's conception of a new environmental hero, Dr Toad, a time travelling eco-warrior dead set on conservation who uses what was a sewage vent but has now become his 'TARDIS' to thwart his enemies.

Storyboards detailing Dr Toad's adventures, as well as other community generated pieces of eco art and poetry will be on display throughout the park from Sunday's launch event which will see Cyc du Soleil's cycle and solar powered pop up stage amplify the entertainment with no carbon footprint.

Rivermead Nature Park Fox sculpture

Steve Larkin

It is hoped that the addition of the displayed art work will encourage more local people to enjoy the site and that it will reduce anti-social behaviour like vandalism and fly-tipping.

Steve Larkin who managed the project said:  "This has been a great educational experience for all the people involved who have learnt so much about the important and beautiful natural space on their doorstep.  There are already signs that this project will lead to self-stewarding of the site by the community."

The free event on Sunday, December 8 runs from 12-3pm.