I spent a day this week with Julia Walling (of Woods for Wellbeing) and Lol Klein (of Loudwater Studio), away up the woods below the Iron Age hillfort of Bury Ditches in Shropshire.
The day was part of a project called ‘Loudwater Studio in the Shropshire Hills’, funded through Shropshire AONB in association with Woods for Wellbeing. Loudwater Studio is part of Vision Homes Association, a charity that supports people with visual impairments and other complex disabilities to lead full and active lives. So up in the woods with us were very disabled people and their carers, sitting in the sun, listening to the birds, having the clouds described to them, touching oak leaves.
Some of us climbed up to Bury Ditches, still heavily ramparted, with a huge 360 degree view. Others followed tracks into the woods and I left them picking blackberries, and exclaiming at late butterflies. We all returned to the firebowl, where Julia was cooking up tasty venison burgers, bought from Andrew Francis’ Butchers in Ludlow, but culled off these very hills by rangers from Shropshire AONB.
I was there to develop some text to add to artworks which Julia, Lol, the clients and their carers are working on back in Loudwater Studio. So I walked through the woods and up to the hillfort, making notes, listening, watching.
Later this week we’ll all go back to Loudwater Studio to continue making the artwork that documents this latest in a series of outdoor visits to the Shropshire Hills by this special group of people.