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Drytree stone and dish. Image by Sara Bowler.

Downs on the up after Arts Council funding

Artists and ESI affiliates, Elizabeth Masterton and Sara Bowler, have been awarded £15,000 by Arts Council England towards the research and development of ‘Goonhilly Village Green’, a public-facing exploration of Goonhilly Downs on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.

Elizabeth and Sara have been working with researchers in the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) since October 2014, as affiliates on the ESI-RANE Creative Exchange Programme. During their ESI residence they have held a series of meetings with researchers who are carrying out field studies and experiments on and around Goonhilly Downs.

The Arts Council England award, made through public funding from the National Lottery, will enable them to consolidate their research to date and prepare for a pilot public event in September. This event will include an artist’s commission, thematic workshops, walks, talks and social gatherings.

ESI researchers and academics will be invited to present papers at the event, alongside other knowledge-holders connected to the area. The aim is to create a temporary shared cultural centre on the Downs, where people can explore and disseminate knowledge and understanding of this unique site. The artists will be meeting with local businesses and community organisers in the coming weeks to secure their support and engagement; Natural England, managers of the National Nature Reserve and Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd will be key contributors to these discussions.

Goonhilly Village Green is intended as a platform for all people with an interest in the area to meet, talk, listen and play and the project will bring non-professional audiences in contact with academic and subject specialists in environment, ecology, geology, heritage, archaeology, social history, engineering and astronomy. The project has evolved from the artists’ earlier investigations of the area which manifested as the Happidrome, a series of artists’ interventions and exhibitions at Goonhilly Downs from 2007-2011.

Sara Bowler, on hearing of their funding success, said: “We are delighted that the Arts Council has supported our ambition to celebrate Goonhilly Downs by bringing together a wide range of knowledge holders from both professional and non-professional spheres. We believe the September event will reveal fresh insights and understanding about the area and broker new relationships between participants.”

Caitlin DeSilvey, co-ordinator of the Creative Exchange Programme, commented, "This award is a fantastic development for both the artists and for the Creative Exchange Programme, and we’re excited about the opportunity it will give us here in the ESI to continue to contribute to the innovative fusion of arts, science and community that is the Goonhilly Village Green project."

The Creative Exchange Programme is a joint initiative between the ESI and Falmouth University’s Research in Art, Nature and the Environment (RANE) research group. Goonhilly Village Green work in progress will be exhibited in the ESI from 1 July-31 August, and all are welcome. Further details of the project and event will follow as it develops.

Date: 8 June 2015

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