After a year of limitations and challenges, where many children and young people have been confined indoors for prolonged periods, a national lottery funded project has given pupils across Somerset an opportunity to step outside the classroom and be transported to the Quantock Hills to explore, make and play.
'In the Footsteps of the Romantic Poets' helps children and young people to understand and connect with landscape. The project takes inspiration from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William and Dorothy Wordsworth, who lived and wrote in the Quantock Hills, Somerset. To the south east of the Quantocks, with 50 acres of historic gardens and a contemporary art gallery, Hestercombe offers lots of opportunities for learning outside the classroom and provided the perfect introduction to art and landscape.
Pupils had a full day, visiting the gallery to learn about how artists use different materials and processes to make art; walking circular routes through the historic landscape gardens; learning about charcoal making and its importance on the Quantocks and experiencing charcoal as a tool for drawing.
Charcoal burning at Hestercombe
Every year at Hestercombe, the Gardens team make sacks of charcoal using traditional methods, hundreds of years old. Charcoal making is an ancient process and has taken place at Hestercombe from at least 1731 when John and Margaret Bampfylde lived there. Every country estate like Hestercombe would have employed a charcoal burner, a well-respected but lonely job.
Spaeda Associate, Liz Gregory, led pupils through a series of playful exercises using charcoal. Building observation and drawing skills, Liz encouraged pupils to take inspiration from their surroundings as the Romantic poets and painters would have done before them.
The children drew in their Footsteps sketchbooks and on large scale paper. Looking at the shapes, patterns and textures of the surrounding trees, plants and flowers they created a portfolio of personal responses to the landscape.
‘A really good day with a great balance of activities’
Crowcombe and Stogumber - Art Coordinator
‘The students have not stopped commenting about the visit to Hestercombe. They really enjoyed it!’
Elmwood and Penrose Federation KS 3/4 teacher
What is 'In the Footsteps of the Romantic Poets'?
Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Quantock Hills will provide a focus for pupils to explore, make and play outside as part of The Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme led by The Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with help from Spaeda.
You can find out more about how the we're working with schools and find creative resources for outdoor learning here