The Ellen Hutchins Festival is back in Bantry and the surrounding area this month during Heritage Week (August 17-25) with an increased range of activities, many of which are free. Participation and learning are key features of the festival and plants are at the centre of most of the events.
Wild Child Day, on Wednesday, August 21, takes place again in the gardens of Bantry House, which are open for free that day. The focus is on nature and art, and four creative spots will be set up round the gardens (and under cover in various period spaces if it’s wet). At each spot an experienced arts facilitator/ artist will be offering delightful, quirky, and unusual arts and crafts activities that use plant material – leaves, flowers, twigs, bark, and cordage.
The activities are free, don’t need to be booked in advance, and children can drop-in or stay throughout. The workshops suit children aged five – 12 years with their parents / adults.
The sessions run for two hours in the morning (10am to 12noon) and again in the afternoon (2pm to 4pm).
Cara Tremayne will be back again as her flower pounding is legendary. This activity uses the natural dyes found in flowers, leaves and berries to make art by pounding the natural materials onto cotton sheets to make beautiful artwork. Cara will also be map-making with bark and bits. Ciara Strange who works with willow will run a session on dream catchers, woven panels and willow mobiles, and Etaoin Melville’s group will make clay prints and natural jewellery. Sue van Coppenhagen, botanical artist, qualified teacher and experienced leader of children’s art and craft classes, from East Cork, will focus on leaf printing and painting.
There are some art treats for adults too. The Festival’s ‘resident’ botanical artist, Shevaun Doherty, will be giving a demonstration on Wednesday afternoon (2pm to 4pm) on the Loggia. Shevaun will talk about her painting, and share tips and techniques. There are also workshops in the Bantry House tearooms; Sue van Coppenhagen with Atmospheric Nature Watercolours on Tuesday August 20, and Shevaun is running a two-day workshop, Colours of Summer Flowers, on Thursday August 22 and Friday August 23. These are fee-paying workshops and need to be booked in advance.
The Living History: Letter Writing 1809 event is back at the SeaView House Hotel on Friday, August 23 in the afternoon, and in the morning that day there is Plant Hunting in the gardens there, where Ellen herself gardened. These are free events but need to be booked.
Hand lens and help are available to look for lichens on Snave Beach on Monday August 19 (2pm to 4pm) in a free drop-in session suited to families and the young at heart. After this, Sue van Coppenhagen is giving a free Nature Art Demonstration (4pm to 5pm) in Mannings in Ballylickey.
Funding is from Fisheries Local Action Group South, Cork County Council, NPWS and Bantry Credit Union.
The full Ellen Hutchins Festival programme with booking information is available as a leaflet from Bantry Library and Bantry Tourist Office and online at www.ellenhutchins.com and www.heritageweek.ie