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Floral art takes over Abbey Gardens

If you’ve been strolling through the Abbey Gardens recently you may have noticed the bright and colourful Flowerheads artwork here on display. The art, designed by Michael Brennand-Wood, uses both handmade and real blooms combined together to create an ambitious and eye-catching summer spectacle in the park.
  Though several groups have taken part in the project it was the team at Smiths Row Gallery that originally came up with the idea. Smiths Row gallery is situated in the heart of Bury St Edmunds and supports and exhibits contemporary artists.
  “The idea came from discussions we were having. We wanted to do something with real and imagined blooms,” said Natalie Pace, curator at Smiths Row.
  For such an ambitious project Natalie knew it had to be in a public place. “The natural place to have it was the Abbey Gardens,” she said. Here the public can view the art and it is a part of the gardens.
  Smiths Row had previously worked with artist Michael Brennand-Wood on his exhibition, When Worlds Collide, in 2014. He seemed an excellent choice to work with, not only because he has a strong following and popular public appeal but because, as Natalie said, “he is generous with his time and commitment.”
  The nature of his work also appealed: “His work inspires people. It captivates with its layers of colour and texture, but it also has layers of meaning and political undertones.”
  This was very much apparent in his work with the gallery last year, and it is something he has carried on with Flowerheads. Michael explained:
“Flowerheads literally grew out of my exhibition at Smiths Row last summer. I decided to enlarge the scale and move location from the gallery to the garden which was a fantastic opportunity.
  “The inspiration was centred around the thought that both knowledge and seeds flower; one inside the head and the other outside. The concept is in the title; a realisation that a flower can appear to have a face or head and that humans can seed a series of thoughts.”
  Although Michael is the artist, a huge number of people and organisations have helped with the Flowerheads exhibition, including Smiths Row. “While we commissioned the project there has been a massive effort from many people and organisations,” said Natalie.
  This includes but is not limited to Bury in Bloom, Abbey Gardens Friends, West Suffolk College who provided the planters, local landscapers Pro-Scape and educational group The Crafty Foxes.
  It’s this group that has worked with local children to create handmade blooms which are inspired by Michael’s work. These were created in workshops with a number of local schools and included children aged from pre-school to year 6. They used recyclable materials to create the flowers.
  The Flowerheads exhibition runs until September 19, but it will still be kept alive in a way as the planters are going to be given to the schools involved in the project while Michael’s blooms and planters will be put up for sale. “It will continue to live on in the community,” said Natalie.

Learn more at www.smithsrow.org or visit Flowerheads in the Abbey Gardens.

East Anglian Daily Times - Monday, August 3, 2015

Sponsorship for In Bloom continues

Steve Savage, of Frames Conservatories Direct, with Bury in Bloom’s Melanie Lesser.

A home improvement company in west Suffolk is sponsoring a roundabout in Bury St Edmunds for the 10th year in a row as part of the town’s ‘In Bloom’ initiative.

The Bury in Bloom Roundabout Sponsor scheme has been running for two decades and Frames Conservatories Direct (FDC) is one of its longest running backers. This year the company has sponsored two roundabouts at either end of Bedingfield Way.

Melanie Lesser, Bury in Bloom co-ordinator, said: “We look after 17 rounda-bouts around the town and it is only with the support of companies like FCD that we can sustain the good work for the town.”

East Anglian Daily Times - Saturday, August 1, 2015

Judges impressed by Bury’s blooms

Anglia Bloom judges visit Bury St Edmunds. Left to right, Jo Kreckler (Greene King Sponsor), Eileen Ward and Brian Thornton (judges), Melanie Lesser (Bury In Bloom Coordinator).

Judges of a horticultural competition have described the green-fingered efforts of Bury St Edmunds as “wonderful”.
  Yesterday, Anglia in Bloom judges Brian Thornton and Eileen Ward enjoyed a tour of the town, which took in stops such as Moyse’s Hall Museum, the Abbey Gardens and ‘Flying Fortress Park’ at Moreton Hall.
  Rebecca Davis, horticul-tural officer for the borough, who designs the striking floral displays in the Abbey Gardens, said she had tried to do things a bit differently this year.
  On a stop in the Abbey Gardens, Ms Ward said: “I’m impressed with Rebecca’s new planting scheme in the gardens. It’s different to what we have
seen here before.
  There are more subtle colours and bee-friendly plants, which is wonderful.”
  Mr Thornton, who is Anglia in Bloom president, was impressed with the team-work and community involve-ment to make the town look its best, the hanging baskets and new wolf trail.
  Ms Ward described what they had seen as “wonderful,” adding: “It’s lovely to see there are so many different things in the pipeline still where they are going to greatly improve other areas. Credit to all of them.”
  Alan Jary, chairman of Bury in Bloom, said their work was “putting Bury on the map.”

East Anglian Daily Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gently does it for the Abbey Gardens’ new colour palette

Left to right, John Smithson, parks operations manager, Cllr Joanna Rayner, and West Suffolk horticultural officer Rebecca Davis.

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds are a Suffolk showstopper. And this year’s summer display has just been planted.
Set against the backdrop of the ruins of the Great Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, the Abbey Gardens are always an impressive sight.
  Known for their colour and display, the formal planting and informal gardens are an annual eye-catcher attracting thousands of visitors.
  This year’s display, just recently planted, will mature in a few weeks.
  The formal display has been designed by West Suffolk horticultural officer Rebecca Davis.
  She said: “We decided this year to go for a gentler colour scheme but still using the traditional bedding plants in a total of 48 beds in the formal planting area.”
  Rebecca said the gardens also include a number of arts installations new this year.
  She added: “The aim is to offer visitors to the gardens something new and interesting to look at and enjoy. Alongside the traditional gardens this is an exciting and innovative space.”
  John Smithson is parks manager for
West Suffolk. He said: “We have, in the Abbey Gardens, a tradition of floristic excellence which we are keen to maintain and develop.
  “We have spent a lot of time and effort with the gardening staff who have created this year’s wonderful display.”
  With 20,000 plants including dahlias, penstemon, marigold, begonia and salvia, the planting scheme is also aimed at encouraging bio-diversity.
  John added: “We have decided to try more subtle colours and move away from the rich reds and bright yellows to a more subtle blue palette.”
  The gardens attract 1.3 million visitors a year. Joanna Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough councillor with responsibility for leisure and culture, said the gardens are an important part of Suffolk’s heritage.
  She added: “I am really excited to see this year’s planting scheme. Every year we have a wonderful display and the Abbey Gardens are always something we can be proud of.”
  A new Peace Garden, unveiled in January this year, commemorates the 57 victims of a local massacre of Jews in 1190, and all other victims of humankind’s inhumanity.

Gardener Steve Burgess with horticultural officer Rebecca Davis.

East Anglian Daily Times - Monday, July 13, 2015

Wolves at the door... every door!

Trudi Edmunds and her Archant wolf made by her Innipooh art and craft workshop young artists including Emily Golding, 10, Eva Lawrence, 10, Emily Jones, 11, and Jessie Bream, 10.

Matt Reason
West Suffolk reporter

Twenty-six wolves are to become the hunted in Bury St Edmunds, with a new art trail officially launched at The Apex last night.
  Visitors can now track down the public sculptures, which are being spread out across Bury’s historic centre over the next ten days.
  The varied creations, all made by 18 local artists and sponsored by busi-nesses, range from The EADT and Mercury sculpture, bearing a coat of newspaper fur, to those made from willow or even milk cartons.
  The project is a joint venture between
the Business Improvement District OurBuryStEdmunds, St Edmundsbury Borough, Bury Town and Suffolk County Council.
  It has been over a year in the making and organisers hope it will bring extra visitors in to the town and showcase local artists to a new audience.
  Mark Cordell, OurBuryStEdmunds chief executive, said: “It is a fantastic collaboration between artists, the three councils and businesses.
  “The artists have really delivered, all of the wolves have been finished on time, they are all different and diverse.
  “I have had my reservations at times, but standing here now and looking at the wolves, it is a great success.”

Artist Jon Messum shows his stained glass artwork to Suffolk High Sheriff Judith Shallow, Mark Cordell and Melanie Lesser

He said the Wolf Trail aims to promote Bury as a place to go and visit, showing that there is always something different on offer in the town.
  The wolf was chosen due to Bury’s historic ties to the legend of St Edmund the Martyr, 9th Century King of East Anglia.
  He was killed by a heathen army of Danish Vikings in 869, who, legend has it, shot him with an arrow and then beheaded him after he refused to denounce Christianity.
  His head was thrown into the forest, but followers of Edmund found it intact after a wolf called out “here, here, here”.
  He was then buried, along with his head, in Bury – giving his name to the historic town.
  The woman behind two of the wolves,
including Eddy The EADT wolf, is Trudi Edmunds.
  She said: “I had to, I am Trudi Edmunds, from Bury St Edmunds, creating wolves from the legend of St Edmund, in Bury St Edmunds.”
  Eddy the wolf is created from a plastic bottle frame and is designed in collaboration with children at her art club.
  She said: “The newspaper fur, you can see the headlines from local papers and people will be able to go, ‘oh I remember when that happened’.
  Her other wolf is made from a welded steel frame, chicken wire and wood – all “found objects” picked up by Ms Edmunds.
  If you find 10 or more of the wolves, who will all have individual plaque numbers, you can stand a chance of winning a £100 shopping spree in Bury.

Suffolk High Sheriff Judith Shallow with artists Jacquie Campbell, Heidi McEvoy-Swift and Liz Cooke from Rojo Ary who made “Ghost” from milk cartons

Those wishing to take part in the trail, which will run until November 20, can download a trail pack from www.ourburystedmunds.co.uk/wolftrail. Nine wolves are still available for sponsorship.

East Anglian Daily Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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