Visit Derby’s Well Dressing Trail

Visit Derby’s Well Dressing Trail, portraying how Derby Green Spaces were used during First World War.

From Monday 20 June to Friday 25 June, there will be 5 schools, a youth group, and an over 50s group working with local participatory artists, Spiral Arts, to produce a number of well dressings for exhibition in Derby’s first public park, the Derby Arboretum and extending into the city centre around the Cathedral Quarter. Derby Arboretum is a Grade II listed landscape gifted to the people of Derby by local mill owner and benefactor Joseph Strutt on 16th and 17th September 1840. Last year the park celebrated its 175th anniversary.

Continuing with the anniversary theme, Spiral Arts are working with Professor Paul Elliott from University of Derby on an Arts and Humanities Research Council project looking at the home front in Derby during the First World War. It involves working with a group of local residents, interested in the history of Derby, a PHD student and two 2nd Year Undergraduates from the University that are researching Derby’s archives to uncover information about our Parks and Green Spaces during First World War. The research information will be used to create ideas for the well dressings which will then be on display for the people of Derby.

The trail will be launched on Saturday 25 June in the Orangery at Derby Arboretum Park at 11am and the well dressings will be on display until Sunday 3 July. There will be some well dressings displayed in the Arboretum Park and also well dressings displayed around the city’s Cathedral Quarter – QUAD, Deda, Derby Central Library, Derby Local Studies Library, Derby Cathedral and Derby Tourist Information Centre.

This intricate art is unique to Derbyshire. Traditionally well dressing frames are soaked in the local river before being packed with clay. A design is marked out onto the clay and then each section is carefully covered with individual flower petals, leaves, seeds, coffee beans, feathers and stones to complete the design.

Maureen Elliott, Visual Arts Director at Spiral Arts said "This is a great opportunity to work with University of Derby, to celebrate the history and beauty of the park and to promote this area of Derby, also to work with a broad section of the community and be supported and work in partnership with Derby’s cultural organisations, we are looking forward to the exciting events planned for the year ahead.’

All Being Well Arts Group said ‘We are very pleased to be involved again with the well dressing in this anniversary year for the park, we are delighted to be able to promote the groups artwork through this unique event.’

Julie Topham, Operations Manager at Derby Central Library said ‘We are very pleased to have the well dressing in the Central Library again.’

The research will also be used to create a textile banner exhibition in August at the Derby Arboretum Summer Celebration.

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