Chester city centre will see ‘Spring Bloom’ earlier this year as seven artists bring their interpretations of Cheshire nature into the city centre for a curated art trail. The installations are set to launch on 19 February 2022 and will run through early spring until the end of March.
Spring Blooms follows the success of “The Roving Moon” seen dotted across the city’s rooftops over the festive period as part of Chester Designed by Nature, a six-month community arts project launched by Destination Chester, with support from the European Regional Development Fund.
The project aims to embrace and explore the natural world that surrounds us through a programme of art, activities, performance, storytelling and large-scale sculptural installations. Each installation in the Spring Bloom campaign has been inspired by various aspects of nature from honeycomb, blossom, tree roots or bird song in an effort to rewild the city.
The artists will display their installations in one of the city’s most atmospheric and beautiful corners, with one installation even taking over a bus to encourage the use of ‘green’ transportation and another consisting of a portable stage that will sit within the city’s Cathedral gardens.
Destination Chester, a network of the city’s tourism partners, has commissioned the installations from outdoor arts specialists Wild Rumpus. The community team at Chester’s Storyhouse will be staging events alongside certain installations and will also run free half-term events at The Nest on Bridge Street.
Rowan Cannon, co-director, Wild Rumpus, said: ‘Spring Blooms is the grand finale to Chester Designed by Nature and we can’t wait for it to unfurl all across the city in a few weeks’ time. It’s all about celebrating nature in unexpected places and re-energising the city with the fresh shoots of Spring. Our team of exceptionally talented artists have created seven sculptures and installations to find, including a murmuration of birds in the bandstand by the river and a bus filled to the brim with pink cherry blossom. And people can even rewild the Eastgate Clock on their phones using augmented reality.’
Jamie Christon, Chair, Destination Chester, said: ‘We’re hugely excited to be able to present this interesting new art trail from Chester Designed by Nature, which has been made possible by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund. Destination Chester continues to be the single network representing the visitor economy in the city, making sure we continue to capitalise on the city’s offering, both through targeted marketing campaigns and through new initiatives like public art. We are delighted that through this destination marketing work, we are also supporting local creative communities, and giving young artists an opportunity to showcase their work to thousands of people’
The art trail will consist of the following installations:
Crossroads Honeycomb – The Cross
Situated at Chester’s famed cross where the four historic streets of Bridge St, Eastgate, Northgate and Watergate meet, the Crossroads Honeycomb reflects the beautiful simplicity of nature’s repetitive patterns. Expanding from a central point, the work will reflect the bustle of the hive in the city’s most popular meeting landmark. Artist Bex Knight is a scenographer and artist who specializes in using natural materials, demonstrated most recently by her ‘Hand in Nature’ sculpture in the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.
Murmuration – Bandstand at the River Dee
Murmuration reflects the famed murmuration of the starlings, captured in the perfect spot on the banks of the River Dee. Near the iconic Victorian bandstand, birds will float amongst the trees so that spectators can sit on a bench and look up to the bird’s mesmerising performances. Artist Nikki Charlesworth is a Theatre Designer and Maker residing in the East Midlands. Through her own company, Nikki Charlesworth Productions, Nikki works at the forefront of disability-led theatre making and has created outdoor theatre work that has toured the UK.
Shop Front. Night Camera. Animal – The Co-op Building, 54, 56 Northgate Street
Truly bringing nature to the heart of the city, this digital video installation will see Cheshire’s nocturnal wildlife scurry, wander, rummage and gnaw through Chester’s shopfronts. A collaboration with Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the film will project glimpses of foxes, badgers, mice, hedgehogs, deer and beavers. Artist Jack Brown is a contemporary visual artist working with (and in the spaces between) sculpture, painting, response to site, print, public action, drawing, photography and video. His work looks at the overlooked, things that should be given more than a passing glance, moments that would benefit from magnification.
Spring on Stage – Chester Cathedral Gardens
Spring on Stage doubles as a performance space where the stage itself is also a piece of art inspired by the vivid colours and patterns of spring insects. Enjoy the amazing colours in nature and the scale of bugs within this immersive and bold stage structure, which will host performances from the team at Storyhouse. Led by Lauren Jefferis and Olivia Collins, artists at Pickle Illustration, their aim is to develop creative ways of connecting people. They specialise in creating bespoke artwork for public areas with an aim of turning spaces into places, building community and a sense of belonging.
Arizical – Grosvenor Park, situated near the miniature railway and playground
Set within historic Grosvenor Park, Arizical is a contemplation space inspired by organic networks, such as those of fungi mycelium, plant roots and nerve synapses. The apparently chaotic directions that these mysterious networks create when they form themselves are efficient systems of patterns and pathways and become a labyrinth that visitors can journey through. Recipient of the 2021 Yorkshire Sculpture Park Graduate Award, Artist Jessica Rost is a sculptor and a performance artist interested in ecology, animality and environmental issues. Rost’s work invites us to question how people can have less impact on the planet and live more harmoniously with nature.
Hanami Cherry Blossom Bus
Park and Ride into the city centre and zoo on this amazing Hanami Cherry Blossom Bus, where blossoms co-created with Cheshire communities, are made from recycled shirt yarn, or British super chunky yarn. Celebrating the arrival of Spring with the hope that the year ahead will allow gathering and connection, each Cherry Blossom has been dedicated to the 1,290 registered carers and the many more unregistered carers in Cheshire. Led by Emma Thackham, One Life Artists merge Curatorial Research, Contemporary and Community Art for Social Action in Cheshire with creative empowerment and wellbeing at the heart of the practice. This piece is co-created with Andrea Janowski and the Carer’s Art Group.
Redesigned By Nature – Eastgate Clock
Using augmented reality, Redesigned by Nature will rewild the iconic Eastgate Clock on your mobile phone. Visitors can watch plants and animals take back the landmark transforming it into a rural idyll. The gentle sights and sounds of nature counteracts the sounds of the city. Jack Hardiker is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, designer and storyteller. He works with both established and emergent artistic techniques to tell important stories in playful, memorable, and unexpected ways.
For more details, go to www.visitchester.com/springblooms