by Helen Young
With thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, who provided funds for a new community outreach programme, this summer saw Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust’s (RGHT) community outreach officer, Helen, exploring the Borough with armfuls of interesting things. We visited libraries, community centres, information hubs etc., with a variety of weird and wonderful items from the collection and archive linked to the theme ‘the natural world’. RGHT looks after an enormous collection of insects, birds, eggs, creatures great and small, and an array of unexpected natural history such as corals and minerals.
We toured a mixture of this collection at the creative workshops, from locally found butterflies such as the Common Blue and Red Admiral; recognised by even the youngest of participants, to less known but fascinating insects such as the local Stag Beetle (still on the watch list for endangered species – you can read more about them here). We also took non-native creatures such as the impressive Hercules Beetle and exquisite sunbirds such as the Red Headed Weaver, both of which you most certainly would not expect to find in your garden! In addition to the static insects and creatures, we also used a range of botanical drawings taken from two beautiful and rare books: Hortus Elthamensis, volumes I and II. Again, we selected plants that you might find in a woodland such as Deadly Nightshade; particularly known to grow in Southern England. We were really keen to show off the largely unexpected natural history collection looked after by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust with the communities of Greenwich and allow the items to prompt stories and shared histories between the participants.
Over June and July, the series of creative workshops were delivered across the Borough by local artists of all crafts including watercolour, drawing, wood carving, metal works and collage. The workshops brought together a wide range of communities and sparked conversations about history, nature, geography and the importance of green spaces, as well as insightful discussions around the evolving landscapes of London and the movement of communities. The workshops received really encouraging feedback and participants noted that they loved trying something new, meeting new people and having a new opportunity to get out in to the community. Below are a small sample of the workshops we ran over the summer with some of the artists.
Please visit Charlton House tea rooms (7 September – 8 October) to see the exhibition of a number of artworks created from the workshops!