We look forward to reopening the Gallery Upstairs as soon as restrictions permit. Meanwhile Upton Country Park would like us to pass on the following update.
Through this third lockdown the County Park continues to be a valued resource for the local community to take some exercise, enjoy some fresh air and time out in nature where they can socially distance. To facilitate visitors safely we continue with the one-way systems for the toilet facilities and boardwalks, undertaking regular checking to replace and refresh signage and messaging to our visitors.
With the toilets open and tea-room running a takeaway service, thanks to the hard work and talent of the Gallery Upstairs team, the wonderful bird display on the walkway ceiling has been receiving admiration from our visitors and its wonderful to hear their positive feedback and bird ID.
Upton House receives a makeover
Whilst the house has been closed some exciting changes have taken place. In addition to the new carpet that was fitted in December - a bespoke design inspired by some historic wallpaper and ornate ceiling roses found in the house. Today all of the chairs were returned to us having been reupholstered in a fabric and colour to go with the carpet. They’ve done a wonderful job and we think the new look looks fantastic.
2020 Dorset Tourism Awards finalists
Upton Country Park is delighted to have been named as finalists in two categories in the 2020 Dorset Tourism Awards: Business Events & Wedding Venue of the Year and Dog Friendly Business of the Year. We have also been commended in the Café/Tea Room of the Year category. The winners will be announced at the virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 4th February 2021 – we have our fingers crossed!
The assessments are based on pre-COVID times and it’s great that the Country Park has been recognised by the judges, providing a lovely morale boost as we continue to navigate our way through these uncertain and unusual times.
Though some activities have been put on hold, work on the Discovery Project Activity Plan has been moving forward despite the lockdown.
Volunteers have been involved with the Operations Team and have made a small start on re-instating our vistas from the House to the shoreline. New signage has gone up around the Country Park which links back to our website through the use of smart phones, explaining the Project and the changes that are happening on site. The information that it links to can be found on the website here: https://uptoncountrypark.com/discoveryproject/happening-now/
We have been joined by new volunteers for our research group, who have been continuing virtually, and have started work with Bournemouth University Students on our Upton Memories Project. We have also started recruiting volunteers to help with our community activities and learning programme.
The planned monthly Dads and Kids Club could not take place in person so was moved to an online downloadable activity pack which so far has had over 350 downloads! Similarly, we will be producing a series of videos on our website with the Urban Heaths Partnership for activities to do outdoors with Early Years children.
Planning work is carrying on for schools’ sessions, older people’s activities and health walks. We will also be hosting our first Access Focus Group discussion about our new plans in February with partners from across Dorset. If you would like to be involved in any of this, please do get in touch with Jennie.
Funded through the bid and in line with our financial regulations, a combined tender for the Stable Yard, Kennels and Fowl Shed works closed in January and after evaluations we hope to appoint the successful contractors in the coming weeks. The eight-week programme of works is likely to start shortly after with an aspiration to complete before May 2021.
Located near the historic glasshouses, Spurrier’s Kiosk has been operating successfully since Christmas. It is currently open at weekends and school holidays weather permitting offering a range of take-away drinks, snacks and packaged ice creams.
In readiness for the summer, we have recently replaced the floor covering as we look to offer scoop ice cream. We also plan to add some tables and seating in this area once social distance restrictions and budget allow.
Recognising customer demand, in January we introduced an extra cup size for hot drinks in The Tea Rooms and so now have a small, regular, and large available for purchase.
The new craft concession ‘Create @ Upton Country Park’ have been a welcome addition to the barn in the courtyard, encouraging visitors during the week or when experiencing poorer weather to still visit and use the Tea Rooms facility. They have been impacted by the national lockdowns and are currently only able to offer a click and collect service.
Winter works programme
Making the most of the winter period, it has been a busy few month for the Operations Team. We are delighted to retain our garden and conservation volunteers, albeit with a more comprehensive booking system and fewer numbers to maintain safe distances. In recent weeks, in addition to the routine maintenance, the team have focused on phased thinning along the Shoreline Woods and hedge-laying within the main car park.
The annual winter work in the Walled Garden and Borders have taken place, ensuring that the plants, hedges and fruit tree are pruned and protected against the cold – if you’re visiting, keep an eyes open for the jumpers on the Banana trees! In line with the works to restore and revive the Regency gardens, a large area of Laurel along the House drive has also been cleared to provide a more open approach and setting. In the coming weeks, the area will be raked and seeded with a grass and wildflower flower mix.
In line with our Management & Maintenance Plan, the team have started a phased thinning programme. The result will allow increase natural light to the ground for the benefit of the wildflowers and other lower growing vegetation. It will also reduce competition for the remaining trees to flourish.
The team have also continued to Halo below the veteran Oak tree canopies, building on the work started last winter and linking to the historic sightline we will be restoring through the Discovery Project.
Hedge laying in main car park
The latest phases form part of a 6 year process to lay the car park hedge separating the car park and agricultural fields. The results will improve the hedge, providing a wildlife corridor and habitat for flowers, invertebrates, bats, birds and mammals.
Hedge laying is an ancient technique where the tree is partially cut and then bent over, but slightly raised to ensure the sap continues to flows upwards to keep the tree alive. This process is repeated every 6 or 7 years and eventually the hedge forms a thick, stock proof boundary which provides excellent and much sought-after natural habitat.
Service pipe repairs
Over the last few weeks, contractors for Wessex Water have been working in the shoreline fields to replace a 12m length of ageing sewage pipe that runs across the estate. The significant repairs have created little disruption to visitors and thankfully are on schedule to finish in the coming weeks. Once the ground works are complete, the area and recently planted hedgerow will be reinstated by Wessex Water.
New faces within the team
We are delighted to welcome Gabby Hyman to the role of Visitor Services Officer. Gabby has fantastic experience working for the National Trust in similar roles and replaces Emma Coveney who left in September.
Next week, Jack Menezes starts as the new Environment & Conservation Apprentice. The role is supported through Kingston Maurward College and offers Jack up to 18mths practical experience to support the college work.
Looking ahead, the team look forward to the return of the FUCP and PEDAS teams. In the meantime, to keep momentum we will continue to work hard in driving forward our ambitious Discovery Project programme. Whilst also working closely with customers, activity providers and other partners to ensure we can react to the ever-changing climate.
Want to be inspired this lockdown? My Local Lockdown Life is an exciting project which is collecting the experiences of BCP Council residents living through the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown period.
BCP Council in partnership with Arts by the Sea, Dorset Race Equality Council, Pavilion Dance South West and Poole Housing partnership is collating artwork from residents to capture how communities and individuals have experienced COVID-19. These include photos, stories, poetry and films.
You can see some of this artwork collected from last year’s lockdown at the online My Local Lockdown Life exhibition. This pen and wash sketch, ‘Queuing for Lidl’ was painted by PEDAS's own David Roberts. Congratulations David! This will become part of the museum's permanent collection.
The project is still taking submissions so be sure to share your artwork using the link below.
Share and submit your artwork
Take a look at the online exhibition
Now is the perfect time to plan a New Year full of positivity.
Abi Kremer (good friend of PEDAS & popular Art teacher) has the following online Art courses starting very soon:
She is delivering a three week art history course on Zoom for Southampton City Art Gallery: Pioneering Women in their Collection, featuring Eileen Agar, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Bridget Riley (painting shown) on Wednesdays 7-9pm, starting this Wednesday 13th January. See link: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/508372
You can also just do individual sessions if you wish.
Abi has a private Zoom course 'Exploring Portraiture' beginning on 25th January on a Monday morning 9.30 - 12.30pm, which is full, but she is proposing to run a second one on Monday afternoon if there is a demand. On this course she will be sharing some inspirational images on a PowerPoint, shows a demo which she will have recorded earlier and will do online critiques of the work, by 'pinning' your work in progress. She has a second webcam where she can do live demos. You will be working from your own chosen portrait photo, which is emailed across to her beforehand.
Please let Abi know if this is of interest, and she will forward the details. email@example.com
Check out the recently published 'Art Meets Ecology' publication, with six of Abi’s paintings:
If anyone would like a copy of her monograph (essays by Peter Davies, Jackie Sarafopoulos and Simon Olding) "Colour and Inspiration' she still has some left at £10 plus P&P.
Abi’s website: Abi Kremer | artist
Mothballed galleries and abandoned exhibitions were no doubt the norm for the year just gone. Meanwhile PEDAS has responded with an alternative venue - a virtual gallery of Members’ work that’s always open to browse or buy.
All pieces are for sale - in various styles and media, some framed, some unframed. Dorset landscapes and seascapes are particular favourites (examples above are by: Penny Wilton, Heather Vowles, Carol Cox and Pam Marshall). Full details accompany each piece when you click on the website images at: Art For Sale - Poole & East Dorset Art Society (pedas.org.uk)
This is an ongoing exhibition where members may submit a replacement artwork at any time.
Browse - and do please share this page with others– word of mouth to family and friends, email or text a link to your contacts and/or comments and links on your social media, all such actions will help the page’s online profile – thank you.
There's a fluttering above your head these days, if you go through the entrance to the courtyard outside the Tea Rooms and The Gallery Upstairs.
Management at Upton Country Park have long thought this was a dark and uninviting entrance, so members of Poole and East Dorset Art Society and the Gallery committee were asked for their help. The resulting display is part of the Upton Country Park Discovery Project.
Back in the summer you may have noticed the appearance of a blue sky and fluffy white clouds, just waiting for some bird-life. With the help of staff from “Birds of Poole Harbour”, PEDAS artists identified some of the iconic birds of this area, and the project “Birds of our Shoreline” was under way.
The artists drew out scale drawings of birds in flight, cut out life-sized outlines on foam board which were then transposed by the group “Poole Men’s Sheds” onto MDF and carefully cut out. The birds range in size from the tiny kingfisher to the magnificent black backed gull with its one and a half metre wingspan.
The “fun bit” for the artists was to add the lifelike colouring with acrylic paint. The “not so fun bit” was finding a way to attach them safely to the ceiling in line with Health and Safety guidelines concerning small fingers reaching into them and getting trapped. Much thought was given to the arrangement of the “flypast” to show them to best advantage.
An identification board is being prepared to add to the display, and possibly a few more birds too. Meanwhile look up as you enter the courtyard and see if you can name them all.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!
Photo credit John Biggs