Community Participation Projects
Communities are at the heart of a landscape and so Community Participation projects were an important part of the DerwentWISE Scheme. Therefore, it set out to engage with as many different people as possible in a range of activities. This included:
- increasing awareness of heritage through surveying techniques
- increasing public awareness of the need for conservation or restoration of the area
- enable local communities to better understand the landscape through arts
- celebrating the Derwent Valley
The scheme office team attended several events across the valley to create awareness about the different projects and ways people could get involved.
Heritage at Risk – The Heritage @ Risk project aimed to update 1000 records on the Historic Environment Record (HER) within the DerwentWISE area. To complete the task we hoped to train 100 volunteers to carry out the surveys independently. As well as providing up-to-date information on any features that might be at risk, the aim was to analyse the results for patterns that might show any clear risks to our historic environment.
The HER is a database of heritage sites: built heritage and archaeology, and includes information about its condition. As the condition of the features listed changes, we wanted to get an up to date picture of the HER in the DerwentWISE area.
As well as being useful for anyone interested in local history, the HER is used for planning, land management, and by the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (DVMWHS). Derbyshire County Council maintains the list in the DerwentWISE area. Historic England refers to the HER when it puts together its list of ‘Heritage At Risk’: sites that are most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development
Underwater and Water life – A participatory arts project linking into water related conservation projects by using water and water-life as a theme and a choice of art-forms.
Sedimentation – A participatory arts project linking into rocks and the topography of the landscape with a geology theme. Using clay as a medium and accessible techniques this has enabled the involvement of people with a wide range of abilities.
Darley Park Walled Garden – Project to create a community well dressing and stone mosaic for the Darley Park Walled Garden.
The Darley Park Walled Garden project will celebrate Ada Evan’s donation of the Evans family house and park to the people of Derby in 1929.
Artist Amanda Wray was commissioned to lead on the design and creation of the mosaic. It was originally intended that the mosaic be built from stone, but as Amanda pointed out, this would have meant it being very grey and not very interesting. Ceramic tiles were chosen as the right materials to use with the compromise being that the base be made using reclaimed stone from the park.
A community consultation was held at Darley Park to help Amanda come up with ideas for the design. Park users were asked to share their memories of, what they love about and what they do in Darley Park. An array of responses came back hence all of the different detail in the mosaic design.
Subsequently workshops took place at St Matthew’s Church, Quad and the Silk Mill for people to come and have a go at making the mosaic.
Finally the mosaic was unveiled in the Hydrangea Garden where it still stands today. The opening event was attending by the Mayor of Derby and Radio Derby.
The workshops were used to highlight the Darley Park Walled Garden and its historic importance and the National Hydrangea collection – the largest in Britain and third largest in the world.
The Under Storey Story – A participatory arts project linking into landscape clearance, grassland management projects and also relating to woodland landscape. An introduction to indigenous under-storey flora being re-introduced and historic and modern use of some of the natural materials being cleared –as they would have been in historic land-management cycles.
Activities included making window hangings based on the flora and fauna of the Derwent Valley.
Anatomy of the landscape – A two part painting and photography project which investigates the geology of the DerwentWISE area. The projects were jointly delivered with the National Stone centre and aimed to increased peoples understanding of the landscape of the Derwent Valley by increasing understanding the underpinning geology.
Activities included taking site photographs, sharing techniques of using both cameras and camera-phones and experimenting with making cyanotypes using leaves, stones etc. from the landscape to mask areas of the paper from exposure to the light, before washing off in water, to leave blue images and patterns. Workshops were also held making felt pieces and painting with local amateur artists.
Story-telling walks – Focussing around the Cromford Canal access and restoration project, as well as other areas in the Lower Derwent Valley, story-telling walks was a participatory arts project aiming to engage with families and young parents. The project worked with organisations involved with communities with sensory, physical and learning disabilities as well as the families of pre-school children with the aim to encourage people to use the canal paths in a safe way whilst engaging in the historic environment.
Lidar Link – The University of Derby Arts Faculty delivered a participatory arts project that engaged young people from Derby in a two week arts programme. The young people engaged in photography, ceramics, land art, outsider art and sculpture. They also enjoyed two field trips in the Landscape to help inspire their art within the workshops.
This project was to give opportunities to young people in Derby City who may not have previously engaged with the Landscape through art and be inspired through this interaction.
Film and Photography – Project to record some of the DerwentWISE projects from beginning to end to provide a valuable record of what has taken place. It has covered both photography and film making and has been linked to storytelling as a means of communicating and understanding the history of the area.
Maps and Mapping – A participatory arts project mapping the landscape through dance. Choreographed by Alice Marshall (University of Derby) & Danni-Louise Chell the dancers were made up of university students and members of the public.
The dance told the story of a family of mill workers and their journey through the industrial revolution. It was performed at Altitude Festival at the Eco Centre and the DerwentWISE celebration event at Arkwright’s Mills in Cromford.
Lost stories photography – Lost Stories Photography was a project delivered by the University of Derby, which started out as photography specific but expanded its reach further into Arts Faculty to include illustration, animation, graphic design and textiles. Topics that were covered included the history of John Smedley’s Mill and Duffield Castle; both activities included public exhibitions of the students work.
A small photographic landscape / recording the features of an historic building / ancient woodland project, with a small group of Year 6 pupils from a Long Row Primary school. The project tied into the ‘history’ element of the curriculum and a small exhibition was held of the works.
The project also encouraged the students to engage in the Lower Derwent Valley landscape offer interpretations of wildlife, built and natural heritage. These pieces were exhibit at the University of Derby ‘Big Show’ and at Wirksworth Arts Festival.
Celebrating Derwentwise – End of project celebration events to showcase the work that has been achieved, the partnership and people who have made it happen.
Three events were held across the Lower Derwent Valley:
- Darley Park Superhero Picnic 2ndAug 2018 – A family fun day, part of Derby Park’s Love Parks week
- Warp & Weft 19thJan 2019 – A musical celebration of the Lower Derwent Valley, composed by John Crossley and performed by Sigma 7 and Derwent Brass
- Cromford Mills 23rd& 24th Mar 2019 – DerwentWISE weekend at Arkwright’s Mills in Cromford.
Leawood and Bow wood – This project was to train community volunteers to survey and record archaeological remains found within Lea Wood, Lea Shaw and Bow Wood.
A community archaeological dig took place over two weeks at Lea Wood Knoll using results from the Lidar Survey led by Jim Brightman (Solstice Heritage) was held to investigate the nature and extent of archaeological remains/features present in the area.
Launch events – DerwentWISE held three launch events in the first year to mark the beginning of the scheme and increase community participation. Day long events, they were planned at times and locations to attract a mix of ages and groups. The first event was held at the Derbyshire Eco Centre on the 26th April 2014 and followed by the Silk Mill in Derby on the 28th and 29th June 2014 and Belper Goes Green on the 30th June & 1st July 2014.
Community grants – The community grant scheme provided small grants of up to £1,000. It focused on creating new or helping existing ‘friends groups’, or community groups, and provided a fund for any community initiatives which arose.
Lidar survey – This project undertook a LiDAR survey, by way of a bespoke flight, of a rectangular parcel of land (approximately 21 square km) that encompassed wooded areas on both sites of the Derwent Valley north of Ambergate and south of Matlock Bath. The additional data has contributed to the identification of unrecorded heritage assets, enhanced the Heritage at Risk (HER) dataset, informed targeted surveys on the ground to verify and record the remains identified and contributed to the future management and conservation of the landscape. The flight was undertaken by Blue Sky Ltd and the analysis by Trent and Peak Archaeology.