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Willow builds bridges - and sculptures - for museum and school – University of Reading

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Willow builds bridges - and sculptures - for museum and school

Release Date 23 November 2006

Art, education and nature are joining forces at the Museum of English Rural Life next week. The Museum (MERL), which is owned and managed by the University of Reading, has teamed up with The Hawthorns School in Woosehill, Wokingham, and artist Sophia Gabbitas to make a sculpture from willow which will be on display in the Museum's new garden. The project has been made possible thanks to funding from Creative Partnerships, an Arts Council initiative. Sophia will work with the youngsters, working in willow, examining ideas of habitat and sustainability. The children will make miniature habitats at their school, and then come to the Museum on November 28 and 29 to create one large sculpture based around the same themes for the garden. Sophia will be assisted by student volunteers from MERL's volunteer programme. Bekky Moran, MERL's Learning Manager said: "This project marks the start of work to create an attractive and interesting garden to complement the museum's indoor displays, continues our policy of commissioning artworks for the Museum and helps us to build relationships with schools and the local community. In this respect it is also an important project for the University, which is striving to forge better links with the next generation of students as well as the local community. "The school is also very excited about the project as it is applying for Eco School status and this project will help with its application." Stephen Hempson-Jones, The Hawthorns School's Headteacher, said: "The Eco-Schools programme and awards scheme enables schools to analyse their operations and become more sustainable. "Following the programme is helping the school in developing its stimulating curriculum whilst reducing the environmental impact of the whole school on the community. Already we have a thriving organic garden with a living willow fence and gate. We are delighted that our unique partnership with MERL will enable our pupils to explore and enjoy creating living willow sculpture and animal habitats." The large willow sculpture will be sited at the bottom of MERL's new garden, amongst some of the trees where it can be seen from the 'straw' section of the exhibition. It is hoped that planting will be completed by December and that the garden will be ready for use in the spring Ends Note for media: Media are welcome to attend the creation of the large sculpture at MERL on November 28 and 29. The children are at the Museum between 10am and 2pm. If you wish to come along, please contact Alison Hilton, marketing officer, on 0118 378 8660. Notes for editors: 1. More information about the Museum of English Rural Life The Museum of English Rural Life, in London Road, Reading, was founded by the University of Reading in 1951 to reflect and record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. Today, it forms part of the University's Museums and Collections Service. The Museum operates as a major resource and research centre for the history of food, farming and the countryside with links into the School of History and other academic departments at the University. 2. More information About the University of Reading The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise. 3. For more information about the Arts Council of England and Creative Partnerships, visit the Arts Council website

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