Upland joins forces with ecological designer for project to encourage Wigtownshire bird watching and nature tourism
A leading ecological building designer has worked with six young people to create a state-of-the-art environmentally friendly bird hide at an RSPB reserve in Wigtownshire.
The Modern Makers scheme, run by the Upland arts development organisation, was completed at the weekend when the structure was lifted into place on the side of a lagoon near the car park and picnic area at Crook of Baldoon, near Wigtown.
Sam Booth, who runs Castle Douglas-based Echo Living, mentored the 16-25 year olds from across Dumfries and Galloway the skills they needed to tackle every aspect of a highly challenging project.
Modern Makers was developed as part of Spring Fling, which is run by Upland, as a way to enable a new generation to learn about traditional and modern craft making techniques and to help them on the road to creative careers.
They receive 30 days of training from a professional craft maker so they can learn skills, gain insights into craft making and create a functional piece of craft.
The bird hide project was developed in order to help the RSPB Scotland bring more visitors to the Wigtownshire reserve and show how craft skills can be harnessed to support nature-based tourism.
Sam said: “This is a brilliant project – creating something that will bring visitors to the area closer to nature in this amazing environment.
“It’s been a real group effort and we have ended up with something quite beautiful. The three young women and three young men really came together to work well as a group and support each other.
“They have learned about the entire design process, including budgets and feasibility to the pure poetry of what can be created. And none of them are afraid to muck in and get their hands dirty – they’ve all mucked in with every task.”
One of the biggest problems the team needed to solve was how to build a hide that would survive in such a harsh environment, exposed to wind and rain and frequently flooded.
It also had to be highly functional, giving maximum visibility to birdwatchers – while disguising human presence from the birds themselves.
The result was a hide on stilts, to lift it above the marshes and with five different angles – looking in the direction of key migration paths.
The Modern Makers taking part on the project included Sarah Cloy (19), a design student from Wigtown, who said: “I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved and the way that everyone involved came together as a team.
“The hide is really beautiful and I think it will attract people to come to the reserve from a long way away, and will also draw people here from Wigtown itself. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the wildlife and some incredibly beautiful views.”
Catherine Major (26), from Moffat, added: “I wanted to get involved to improve my skills in building and design as this is something I’d like to develop in my own practice.
“I particularly like the way Sam works because it is sustainable. One of the things that most impressed me is that Sam is always learning as well. Each project brings something new to him, and that was very encouraging.”
Many species can be found at Crook of Baldoon including golden plover, lapwing, pink-footed geese, shelducks and whooper swans. It’s also a favourite hunting ground for peregrine falcons.
Andrew Bielinski, RSPB Scotland’s Area Reserves Manager for Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Sam and the Modern Makers on this project and that they chose to install their hide on this very new and exciting nature reserve. We hope that our visitors will enjoy using the unique hide to view the changing wildlife experience throughout the year at the Crook of Baldoon.”
The hide was constructed from larch donated by RSPB Scotland, which was felled on its land in Wigtown, and there has been invaluable support from the organisation’s Wigtownshire volunteers.
Amy Marletta, Upland’s Professional and Talent Development Manager, said: “The hide is wonderful – and we are delighted to be able to gift something like this to the community.
“Sam and the Modern Makers have done a brilliant job and have shown how much can be accomplished by skilled craft makers, using sustainable techniques, and collaborating with groups like RSPB Scotland which devote themselves to preserving the natural world.”
The Modern Makers 2016 scheme received support from CashBack for Creativity, a Scottish Government programme administered by Creative Scotland, that takes money recovered from the proceeds of crime and reinvests it in programmes for young people.
Laura Black, Arts Officer – Cashback for Creativity, Creative Scotland said: “This project not only benefits the wider community in Dumfries and Galloway with the creation of the beautiful structure now sited at Crook of Baldoon, it has also enabled young people in a rural area to develop crafts and skills that will foster the next generation of makers and boost future employment opportunities.”
Modern Makers is also supported by the Holywood Trust.
· Stuart Barr and John Patterson of 3b Crane Hire generously donated their plant and time to the project, delivering the hide to its site at Crook of Baldoon.
· The Modern Makers scheme takes place each year and offers young people 20 days of tuition from a professional craft maker to learn heritage craft skills and make at least one contemporary functional object.
Photo credit Colin Tennant.
Picture from left: Andrew Bielinski, Joyce Woodcock (Upland acting director), Amy Marletta (Upland professional and talent development manager), Modern Maker Sarah Cloy from Wigtown, and Frances Coombey, and Sam Booth. Wigtown can be seen in the background.