Drawing Woollenlines

At last an invitation to see what has kept me busy for months!

On Friday 15th May Oriel Myrddin are showing my film in its first public screening. Many of you reading this maybe  featured in some way, either as a drawn image or in film or audio recording. I would be honoured if you were able to attend. This feels quite a momentous occasion for me and may well bring back memories for you.

orielmyrddingallery.co.uk/…/drawing-woollenlines-a-short-film-by-pip- woolf/‎

and

In case you cannot come over to Carmarthen for the first screening there is another opportunity to see Drawing Woollenlines, as

Arts Alive Wales will be showing the film at 7.30pm on Wednesday 20th May.

http://artsalivewales.org.uk/wp/event/drawing-woollenlines/

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Images from a very misty midsummer morning in 2013

Here is a link to a very short film made during the extraordinary midsummer sowing of wavy hair grass seed in 2013. The seed grew and there are pictures in the archives, then last spring the fierce rain washed out some of the small plants. However as other later pictures testify that seed sowing has held in places and is gradually providing the first wash of green over the exposed black scar.

Somehow there is so much to learn from the speed at which the natural world operates………………

Here is the link anyway

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A November visit

Yesterday, despite warnings of poor weather we were blessed by kind, but cold weather again. The sun shone through drifts of hill fog to show glimpses of the extraordinary place that is home to the Woollenlines.

Brecon Beacons National Park have a wonderful trainee warden project funded, with vision, by the Lottery. Yesterday the six trainees, with four engineers from the Severn Bridge and an assortment of others ( two very important funding saviours) joined Graham  Cowden and myself to carry wool and seed up onto Pen Trumau.

We planted cuttings, fixed wool sausages made by both one of the local farmers and the trainees and sowed some seed left over from the summer. The seed may sit the winter out and germinate in spring but we don’t know, meanwhile the cuttings continue to flourish, and as more grow they offer increasing support, with help from the wool for whatever new ones we plant.

The site continues to inspire questions and awe.

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A little explanation

To explain the photographs that I posted last week in a rush of enthusiasm .

On the area where the spiralling wool was laid there had been no vegetation growing at all. It was on this patch that, on midsummer morning 2013 we sowed wavy hair grass which miraculously germinated, grew and made it through to March 2014 when the torrential rain sheared a lot of it off. However some has survived and grown as has a great deal of the cotton grass plugs that we planted this summer.

Undoubtedly common cotton grass works best up on the scar behaving much like couch grass by tillering under the surface. In fact where Graham and I planted in 2011 the plugs have grown so much that they have bridged across more than two metres of open ground. This is visible if you can decipher the photos.

Plugs planted alongside the lowest line of wool by the team from the Severn Bridge are also thriving and what is obvious is that where the wool has stabilised the surface the plants do a great deal better. This despite the fact that in some places and for no obvious reason the planting gets torn out by the force of wet and wind.

Having had this happy visit we are now preparing to go up in November to do some more planting. It will be cold but anyone is welcome to join us but do get in touch and I will email date, time and start point.

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Answering the question “is it working?”

I have deliberately stayed away form Pen Trumau these last few months. Prolonged dry weather can present a really depressing image of the peat scar. However last Friday Graham Cowden and I went up to see how our midsummer planting with volunteers from Laing O’Rourke, Gwalia housing association and local stalwarts had faired. Grahams photos tell the story and perhaps, finally, answer the question.

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Wavy hair grass growing between and on felt

Wavy hair grass growing between and on felt

IMG_7408 IMG_7412 IMG_7418 IMG_7420

 

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A lot of planting

On Wednesday 18th June a group of 19 volunteers walked up MacNamara’s track carrying about 5,000 cotton grass plugs and a few wool sausages. Within probably only an hour the plants were all in the ground. Slowly but surely Pen trumau is coming back to life with the help of numerous people giving a little of their time and energy.

As always I am struck by how inspirational human beings can be, and what little it takes. The story of Gandi and the salt march always returns to me, it does appear possible to change the world!

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Green

I was up on Pen Trumau yesterday and last year’s  spiral of wool is greening well.

With two colleagues we took  cotton grass plugs grown by volunteers and a professional grower to plant by way of planning the next trip with a group.

We were amazed at just how many plants came out of the small bundles that I had taken, at least 500 from two trays. Given I trays another 34 trays of plants it looks like there is going to be a great boost to hill from all that effort.

To those unknown growers, well done!

Anyone wanting to help plant do get in touch as I will be going up agin on 18th and 21st June and will send times and directions for meeting by email.

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