The sun is shining on Shapwick Heath and I’m heading deep into the Reserve
with Jon Macaulay from Natural England. We are visiting Ashcott Plot, an area
under restoration to reinstate peat forming, mire conditions. I’m here to measure up several Scotts pines, felled in autumn 2018 as part of Natural England’s restoration program. Believed to have been planted by Victorian landowners, the pines draw large amounts of water from the plot, therefore preventing the return of the bog. The trees can’t be left to decay on the land (this would release too much nutrients into the peat), and they don’t have any value to Natural England as commercial firewood (the wood is too resinous to be used in wood burners).
So, the Natural England team and I have forged an exciting, particularly satisfying collaboration. They will remove three felled pines from Ashcott Plot which I will use to create a new series of sculptures, to be shown as part of my A Long Hundred exhibition at SAW Festival 2019. It’s a dream scenario for me – working on such a large scale, in harmony with the conservation work happening on Shapwick Heath.
I feel immensely fortunate as I measure up the three beautiful pines, out in the May sunshine on the green, peaceful heath. (Encouragingly, it seems the trees will provide exactly the right amount of wood for the sculptures I have planned.) As I leave Shapwick I hear a cuckoo calling. Spring has arrived on the Avalon Marshes, and preparations for A Long Hundred have begun in earnest.