David’s new wildlife carving taking shape.

The new carving at Fort Victoria Country Park is taking shape. The new tree is in position – moved by a team of volunteers and David Wallace can be seen most days carving a section of tree.

When the tree was in its final position, David walked around the showing me what carving might go where – where I could only see bark, he would see a lobster, a frog, castle, mermaid and more. Where his imagination stops his carving ability takes off. He really is a talented artist and he will spend the rest of the summer carving away – already there are some secret carved features that take an age to find!

Most of his time he focuses on the carving lobster, but every so often for light relief he moves on to another part of the tree and another animal or feature starts to take shape.

Sadly, David’s sculpture from last year was stolen from the country park. The focus of last years carving was the animals and plants that could be found in the Solent, he had carved 65 of them. It was a very strong conservation message. However, someone or people unknown came in at night and took a chainsaw to the carving – this year, we have added some security measures so theft is less likely.

As with last year, visitors to the country park just love talking to David about the sculpture and the plants and animals to be found in the wood. David is a good naturalist so conversations often move on to what can be seen in the Solent – In essence David and his work is a living visitor centre and a great credit to Fort Victoria Country Park.

Wood carver David Wallace

Photographs: Pete Johnstone. Fort Victoria Country Park, Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

Learning the Secrets of the Solent

It was a pleasure to meet up with Emily Stroud  (picture right, above)recently from the Secrets of the Solent Project as we visited a number of coastal sites around West Wight.

Secrets of the Solent is a Heritage Lottery funded project, run by the Hants and Isle of Wight Trust aimed at raising the profile, understanding of the marine environment in the Solent. The project area is large covering the north coast of the Isle of Wight and a long stretch of mainland coast and estuaries including Portsmouth and Southampton.

Emily explained that the Solent is a wildlife gem, with hidden seagrass meadows and chalk reefs below the surface. However, in spite of it being a well populated area with heavy industry in places, it is also rich in wildlife and is an inspiring landscape. The project is funded for just 4 years and there is plenty to do in terms of getting volunteers involved and helping to collect wildlife data to help better protect marine life and habitats.

Isle of Wight coastline

Exploring the Secrets of the Solent, Fort Victoria Country Park

Over the life of the initiative the team will engage with communities through art and citizen science, groups, local businesses connected with the Solent to better appreciate what we have but also to encourage personal action to protect the natural heritage.

Without question the team’s task is ambitious but to my mind the project could not come at a better time than now. As we leave the EU, we must ensure that the EU nature designations are replaced with new protection measures that are robust – to do that we all need to appreciate learn what our natural environment has to offer – no more so than the marine environment as it is so hidden from pubic view. If Secrets of the Solent can help communicate and help us better understand the Solent environment then it is a job well done.

 

For more information visit Secrets of the Solent

Photos: Pete Johnstone

Pete’s pictures now up in the New Rembrandt Gallery, Newport

A new venue for my pictures in the centre of the Isle of Wight! Throughout October they can be found at the New Rembrandt Gallery in Newport.

All the scenes are of West Wight and the images have been printed on Aluminium Dibond, a process which ensures excellent picture quality and durability. The matte finish reduces the glare that can often be seen when pictures are mounted behind glass. The prints are 21x28cm priced at £55 each.

The images, all taken over the past year are of the coast and mostly shot in winter, when I reckon the light on the Isle of Wight can be at its best.

New Rembrandt Gallery, 15 Scarrots Lane, Newport PO30 1JD

 

 

The Solent, a tree, a country park and something special

It is not often you come across something special, but today was that day when walking along the shore at Fort Victoria Country Park I came across David Wallace and his horizontal tree carving.  Horizontal as the sea is ever encroaching on the land and the holm oaks are forever slip sliding into the sea.

David has taken to carving the fallen trees and this one is of the animal life of the Solent, both past and present. David stopped work for a moment and we counted how many species he had done. 24, no it was 25 in all as he had forgotten to count the seal at the base of the tree.

The Solent and the tree

View across the Solent from where David is carving the fallen tree.

I came back later in the day as David had kindly allowed me to take photos of him and his work. Whilst there I watched him engage with passers by enthralled by his work – he really is knowledgeable about the marine environment and people keep asking questions – often he spends more time talking to people than carving – but then it is all voluntary, so there are no targets to keep.

It’s the ‘aquarium’ for the ranger explained David – much easier to illustrate what lives in the sea than from any book or a picture. David has been carving since 8 years old, mostly public works of art with the occasional private commission. The Solent carving has taken two months and he says he will keep going until it is finished or indeed until it gets washed away by the sea.

Tree carving

Admiring the tree carving on the shoreline

A passer-by asked me what my favourite carving was, I immediately said the limpet, but on second thoughts it’s probably the sand slater or maybe even the stingray…

Location: Fort Victoria Country Park, Isle of Wight.

Addendum: This year we celebrate the Countryside Act’s 50th Anniversary.  One of the outcomes of the Act was the creation of Country Parks – and a key component of Country Parks was enjoyment of the countryside and I reckon David Wallace’s work is a fine example of Country Parks in action today.

UPDATE: On the night of October 17th someone came to the Country Park sawed the carving from its trunk and stole the lovely carving and took it away. Now all that remains of David’s work of all Summer long is a tree stump. If you ever get offered or see anything resembling David’s tree carving from the pics above please inform the Police.

It was great to see my portrait of cabinet maker Gary Mowle being featured at the Freshwater Coffee House on the Isle of Wight today. Gary was one of my portraits in my recent West Wight People and Place exhibition held at the Dimbola Museum and Galleries earlier this year. 

The exhibition illustrated local people and their connection to heritage and local community. Gary was one of 16 other portraits of West Wight people. 

Gary Mowle, an image from West Wight People and Place

Stefan Powell the owner (pictured right above) of the Freshwater Coffee House has featured the photograph of Gary as the first in a line of portraits, in the coming months, to illustrate the diversity of people living in this corner of the Island.

 

West Wight People and Place

My aim over 2017 with West Wight People and Place was to try and capture a sense of place of the area, through photographing people in the rural community of West Wight – and through them their activities and connections to heritage, land, sea and community.

Whether I have achieved my ambition or not is open to question, but personally I have certainly learnt a lot about this part of the Isle of Wight such as the social issues around living in coastal towns and the management of landscape of the Wight AONB and Heritage Coast.

The people in the photographs are undertaking a whole range of activities to be found on this western tip of the island and include cattle farming at Alum Bay, next to the world famous Needles to willow weaving an arbor on the wildlife rich Yar estuary, just a few minutes walk from Yarmouth.

James Osman, Warren Farm, Alum Bay

Each picture in the exhibition has some accompanying text about the person in the photograph to explain who they are and there connection to the West Wight area. Other people featured include a shepherd, artist, historian, community activist, cabinet maker and more.

Kingsley Hollis, Shepherd, Newtown National Nature Reserve

An image from West Wight people and Place

Joanna English, Artist, Headon Warren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibition is being held at the Dimbola Museum and Galleries in Freshwater Bay from the 26th January until the 13th May.

Further details to be found Here 

West Wight People and Place

The West Wight People and Place project is taking shape. A few more portraits to take and then final preparation for the exhibition early next year.

Remember those old grainy black and white photographs of farm workers starring at the camera, their names, now long forgotten?

Well, the idea behind West Wight People and Place is to try and capture a more modern version of the community in the West Wight area. People who are, in some way, connected with the land, sea, community or heritage of this wind-swept corner of the Isle of Wight.

Its a moment in time.

Photography: Pete Johnstone

 

A Great Place

October has been spent meeting some interesting people – perhaps you may know some of them from my mosaic – and in visiting places around the island to get to know my new home.  I am learning a lot of what the Island has got to offer and what it has not.

Finding the funds to do valuable work is a common theme when talking to people be it on church or parish projects, landscape improvements or those working on regeneration projects such as the Pluto Project in Sandown, mentioned in my last blog.  It is good to know that crowdfunding is being talked about with enthusiasm and hopefully my crowdfunding video – tips for success will be of help to those who have yet to venture into this form of fundraising.

I was really chuffed that On the Wight chose one of my photos, Abstract Sands to be their photo of the week – particularly pleasing for me as most of my photography tends to be of people rather of landscapes.

The two best venues I have been to this month are the Piano Cafe in Freshwater which serves excellent coffee and the Neil Williams Gallery in Ventnor whose landscape photography is truly stunning. The Island is certainly a great place and I look forward to seeing more of it and meeting new people in the months to come.

Elements of the Landscape

Now at the start of April, Elements in the Landscape is just beginning to take shape with lots of phone calls resulting in some more people allowing me to take their photograph. My project is very much about the people in the landscape and their connection to it as it is about the landscape itself.

Jenny Furong, Chatteris Museum

Jenny Furlong, Chatteris Museum

Jenny Furlong is the volunteer Curator of Chatteris Museum, a post she has held for 15 years and now shares with Ian Mason. The Museum moved to the present location in Chatteris in 1995.

One of the exhibits in the Museum is on Cornelius Vermuyden who in the 1650s commissioned by the Crown, directed major projects to drain the Fens and who constructed a system of ‘washes’, to allow periodic flooding of the area by water.

 

Paul Fox and Peter Gardiner, Welney

Paul Fox and Peter Gardiner, Welney

Welney Residents Users Group is a community action group that was formed in 2014 and established as a charity in March 2015. In April 2015 RUG took over the lease of Sandgate Corner – a large overgrown field in the north of the village. Welney RUG are in the process of turning the area into a community greenspace and wildlife area, with orchard, sensory garden and play area.

Peter Gardiner pruning in the orchard

Peter Gardiner pruning in the orchard.

Peter Gardiner a resident of Welney for almost 17 years and a member of RUG has recently retired and has spent some of his spare time helping with the selection, planning and planting of the orchard and native trees.

The young fruit trees will require yearly pruning and with this in mind Peter and another resident recently attended a pruning course with the East of England Apples and Orchards Project to learn the necessary skills required to maintain the new fruit trees.

 

Fred Ingrams painting in the fens

Fred Ingrams painting in the fens.

The fens have changed my life said Fred, an artist who has a passion for painting the fens landscape. I will be painting a scene when a farmer will come up to me and tell me some amazing stories, there is a certain quality about the fen people and landscape which is unique and not to be found anywhere else.

PJ.elements have been awarded a small grant by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme to deliver Elements of the Landscape, a project to photograph people living and working in the Ouse Washes landscape and document their story through images. The people captured in the portraits will have a connection to the land or water, farming, biodiversity crafts or community life.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme is a 3-year project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area’s diverse heritage.

PJ.elements awarded Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Community Heritage grant.

PJ.elements has been awarded a Community Heritage grant from the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to photograph people living and working in the landscape of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk fens.

Pete Johnstone the owner of PJ.elements said:

This is a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to being able to meet and photograph some of the people who live and work in the area and to try and tell their story. I am aiming to photograph farmers, people who are responsible for the water management of the Ouse Washes and those involved with local crafts in the area.

Mark Nokkert, project manager for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme said:

In awarding the grant we like the fact that Elements of the Landscape  will leave a photographic record of people living and working in the Ouse Washes.  We look increasingly to use images of the 1947 floods and earlier ones showing life and people living in past times, and so we  think that this project will  add an important  landscape-specific  contribution to an image library of  fenland life today. 

Pictured are Sara Marshall and Mark Nokkert of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership team.

Photo by Pete Johnstone.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme (OWLP) is a 3-year project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scheme focuses on the promotion of the area surrounding the Ouse Washes, the heart of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens, and on encouraging community engagement with the area’s diverse heritage.

 

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