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Report: The Imaginarium of Common Understanding in Long Sutton

by Kristina Taylor, Arts Engagement Worker, Transported

As part of the On Your Doorstep strand, last year we worked with Long Sutton and District Civic Society to commission an artist to improve their community space, the Long Sutton Common Pit, which housed a large pond, home to lots of ducks. Artist Robyn Woolston was commissioned and began the project by consulting with the local community through a variety of events and with different groups within the local area. Throughout the consultation period, Robyn spoke with over 350 people to work towards the final proposal which was themed around ‘The Wash’. Robyn’s installation at the common pit, titled ‘The Imaginarium of Common Understanding’, included a large insect habitat that was housed inside a boat hull. The insect houses were shaped in and around a map of the Wash that was flipped to present Long Sutton at the apex of the map. The main piece was complimented with a series of smaller sculptural bird houses and insect habitats and an interpretation sign at the entrance of the pit.

The week leading up to the grand unveiling saw an intense week of preparation including the installation, where we carefully hopped around tiny springtime ducklings and their mothers as we navigated the large boat into the space. The Friday before the unveiling we held a workshop in Boston as part of the Family Fun Fridays project where people made their own birds and boats using 3D card techniques.

The morning of the unveiling event, the team set up with the local pub, sited next door to the pit kindly allowing us to use their outdoor space to have our food and seating area. Liam Robinson of Mini Morris played some toe-tapping traditional music, while the crowd around the red ribbon grew.

As the sun began to creep from behind the clouds, members from the project including the Long Sutton and District Civic Society, Transported and artist Robyn Woolston spoke about the journey that they had all embarked on, resulting in the wonderful installations and start of a new beginning for the space.

The ribbon was cut and those present made their way into the space. It was magical to see people gradually discovering all of the smaller interventions which were charmingly tucked away in the natural environment and could be found hidden under flowers at the foot of tree trunks or up high in the canvas of the leaves. They could also learn of the history of the place, the project and the story of the last wash guide on the new interpretation sign. The journey through the common pit concluded with people encountering the largest piece which was the large boat hull. Young and old spent ages exploring its textures and shapes. The bold colours of the boat contrasting the natural bark and wood made a beautiful canvas for insects and bees to inhabit.

Eventually, people made their way back round to the Old Shipp Inn next door who provided us with a lovely spread of sandwiches and cake. The sun was out to stay, and after basking in its rays, some people said their goodbyes. Other people passing by were drawn in with the flashes of colour poking out from the foliage and found themselves wandering off their intended path to discover the creations for themselves.

The Civic Society have lots in store for the future of Long Sutton and its community spaces. Until then, if you find yourself in the area make time to go and visit ‘The Imaginarium of Common Understanding’ and see how art and ecology can fuse together to create a really special place to be.

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The Imaginarium of Common Understanding