Back From The Brink – Ancients of the Future

Date: February 2020

Location: Petworth House and Country Park, West Sussex

Funded By: Back from the Brink, Heritage Fund and People Postcode's Lottery

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In February 2020 artists Martin Brockman and Laura Thomas ran our third Back from the Brink event working with Petworth Primary School and Petworth House and Country Park, on the Ancients of the Future project.  The Ancients of the Future project highlights and informs people about the challenges facing our ancient trees and the wildlife that relies on them for habitat.  There is something about ancient trees that inspires wonder; they are often rich in history and cultural heritage.  An astonishing amount of UK wildlife is reliant on these ancient trees – over 2,000 species.  The trees seem indomitable, their habitats and wildlife secure, but actually they are under threat and declining.

The artists worked with 60 pupils from Petworth Primary School in the beautiful grounds of Petworth House and Country Park.  Focussing the activities around one of the ancient 900 year old oak trees growing within the grounds, the children learnt about the history of the park and the timeline of events the tree may have witnessed.  The children looked at how to age a tree and identify the species that rely on the tree as a habitat.  The group created clay models, drawings, sound recordings and nature books all inspired by the Ancient Tree.

Following the visit to Petworth House and Country Park the Artists visited the school alongside Hayley Herridge, project lead from BugLife.  Every child within the school planted a tree within the schools grounds to create a hedgerow alongside learning about the vital role of the Ancient Trees and the threats they face.  Each child also created drawings inspired by the insects that are under threat using Oak Gall ink and quills made from sticks.

All of the works created were on display within the old shepherds hut in the grounds of Petworth House and Country Park.

Back from the Brink project, led by Buglife, will work with landowners and managers in key places across England. We will secure that vital continuity in some of our most iconic landscapes, focusing on 28 highly threatened species. These include the Violet Click Beetle, the Royal Splinter Cranefly, Eagle’s-claw Lichen, Coral-tooth Fungi, Knothole Moss and the Noctule Bat.

Outdoor Studios worked on the vital major project Back from the Brink as the South East area Community artist group, delivering four site specific events in the South East.

The Back from the Brink project is a collective of many conservation organisations who have joined forces to tackle species extinction! Led by Natural England, the project involves Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the RSPB.  Bringing England’s most threatened species back from the brink of extinction.
Back from the Brink is an ambitious project to save our rarest and most threatened wildlife, such as Grey Long-eared Bats, Pine Martens, Willow Tits and Field Crickets. The scope of the project is fantastic – to save 20 species from extinction and to benefit over 200 more animals, plants and fungi – thanks to players of the National Lottery.
Back from the Brink Travelling Exhibition