Back From The Brink – Field Cricket

Date: March 2020

Location: Rural Life Living Museum, Farnham

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

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Artists Andy Evans and Gemma Gottelier ran our fourth Back from the Brink creative event in March 2020.  The event was for all members of the community and activities highlighted the plight of the remarkable Field Cricket, raising awareness of the urgency to protect this incredible creature. The field cricket is amongst the rarest and most threatened invertebrates in the UK.

Andy and Gemma worked with the visitors on a collaborative installation in the beautiful woodland at the Rural Life Living Museum using natural inks, whittled sticks, quills and other natural materials. Inspired by the field cricket, participants created artworks which were hung along the woodland walk for visitors to discover.  Participants met an RSPB field cricket expert and learnt all about this remarkable creature as the nymphs prepared to emerge from their burrows in the spring. Find out more in the BFTB Art of Saving Species online gallery.

You can see the cricket in action and hear the lovely sound it makes in this YouTube film.

Field crickets can’t fly, but can walk up to 100m a day. Their wing markings resemble intricate wrought-iron work, and the males make a loud call to attract a mate using “harps”, modified veins on their wings.  The grassy heathland in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, where the crickets live and on which they depend, has been greatly depleted by forestry and other land use changes.  In the 1980s, there was just one group of fewer than 100 individuals left in West Sussex. Despite successful heathland restoration and reintroduction projects, the current six populations are still very isolated and vulnerable.

The RSPB led this project and want to make the field cricket populations more robust by extending and joining patches of habitat, and starting new populations by releasing crickets on restored heathland.

Outdoor Studios worked on the fantastic Back from the Brink, project as the South East Area Community Artist Group, delivering four site specific events in the South East. Back from the Brink is a collective of many conservation organisations who have joined forces to tackle species extinction and save our rarest and most threatened wildlife including 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. 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.