London based artists Clayground Collective who are internationally known for working collaboratively to engage communities through clay, are working together with community groups in St Austell on a project called A Walk on the Wildside.

In February, community members of Edible St Austell and the Ceramicists of the Clays and the Bay (CCB) came together with Duncan Hooson and Claire West in an online workshop to make clay Choughs. The Choughs, made of paper clay and embedded with seeds, can now be seen around the bases of the fruit trees in Linear Park. Designed to attract the attention of passersby, these distinctive black and red birds will be left to gently decompose, providing bird food and becoming part of nature’s way of distributing and cultivating plants.

Participants in the workshop commented:

“It was a brilliant way to feel connected and creative with others in these strange times!”

“I don’t have a lot of experience working with clay, but I am a budding ceramicist. I enjoy making animal sculptures, so this was a wonderful experience.”

Edible St Austell would like to draw people’s attention to more fruit trees on their trail and are inviting anyone in the St Austell area to take part in a second workshop to make even more choughs!

This next workshop will take place on Saturday March 6th from 2 – 4pm. Please register for the workshop using the link to Eventbrite below. Please note you must be local to St Austell to take part as you will need to receive or collect the materials necessary for the workshop. Places are limited and booking is essential.

Book here for A Walk on the Wildside, Chough Making Workshop with Clayground Collective

The trees in Linear Park are part of a fruit tree trail planted by Edible St Austell as one part of their activities designed to bring people together using communal green spaces, sharing skills and resources and producing food for the residents of St Austell to enjoy.

Duncan Hooson of Clayground Collective says, “We want to draw attention to the great work that Duana and her community are doing, planting fruit trees on common ground and encouraging people to nurture them and pick and enjoy their fruits.

Paper clay is fantastically easy to use and great for making sculptures. All of the materials used to make the Choughs are biodegrable and will turn into compost. Some of the seeds may germinate in the surrounding area. The idea is that the Choughs will mark out Edible St Austell’s tree trail, attracting the attention of passersby and of real birds that will peck at them to get to the seeds”.

Ceramicists of the Clays and the Bay (CCB) is a new group of artists and potters in Clay Country started by Zenna Tagney during the first lockdown as a way for people to get in touch and support each other. The aim is to create a network for sharing resources, skills, news and opportunities. CCB is open to professional artists and hobbyists and welcomes new members.

Zenna says, “this project is a great opportunity for us to get together as a group in difficult times, to work with Clayground Collective, use our ceramic skills to help raise awareness of the Edible St Austell’s tree trail and flag up our new community group.”

The Chough (pronounced Chuff) is a red legged crow that has a long association with Cornwall, enjoying its clifftops and heathland and proudly appearing on the Cornish Coat of Arms. The Chough, whose Cornish name Palores, means Digger and refers to the way the bird digs about in loose soil to find food, is sadly in decline due to modern farming practices that have affected its natural habitat. Find out more about Cornish Choughs here.

The launch of the project co-incided with the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch weekend in Jan. You can get expert advice on identifying and feeding birds from their website www.rspb.org.uk

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