Have you met Bo? Bo is the newest member of the Cloudspotting team. She is our Hen Harrier mascot, a spokesbird for our Birds of Bowland Project, produced in partnership with the RSPB Hen Harrier Life Project and featuring activities throughout the weekend.
Respecting our festival location
In a location managed by the Forestry Commission England, Cloudspotting has the support from the FCE and the Arts Council to bring high level quality arts engagement into the forest, an area of traditionally low arts representation. Home to some of the most stunning scenery and delicate wildlife habitats in Britain we have always encouraged audiences to explore the surrounding forest and engage with local wildlife. This has developed to us incorporating wildlife issues into our activities programme to delivery important ecological messages of responsibility to an ever-increasing family audience.
In 2016 Bowland AONB brought their Bowland Hay Time project to the festival. Facilitators ran workshops, activities and discussions about the importance of wild meadows to support the animals and insects who inhabit our festival location. We learnt that these animals included wild birds and from that our Birds of Bowland Project began to take wings……
So why a Hen Harrier?
We wanted to make birds that our native to Bowland our focus for the festival this year and we needed to recruit a representative to help promote this. After research and discussions with the RSPB, Bowland AONB and the Forestry Commission we came to the conclusion that the Hen Harrier, although not alone on the endangered list, had the highest profile and notoriety. Threatened with extinction this bird has a national network of supporters who scour the skies and nesting locations for a rare sighting of this bird. Just knowing that there was a national project dedicated to the survival of this extremely rare but formidable bird of prey made their profile even more attractive. The Hen Harrier whose Latin name means circus has a magical air surrounding it, an almost mythical existence; and a festival, a temporary world of escapism seemed like the perfect place for a Hen Harrier to be spotted.
But where to find a Hen Harrier?
We immediately commissioned local illustrator and sculptor, Kerith Ogden to bring the Hen Harrier to Cloudspotting. Our brief was to create an image which we could use throughout our promotional activities of the festival. An image we could use with our logo but with a tribal look all of its own. When we saw the initial drawings we were blown away by the grace and beauty of our bird and we needed to give her a name. But it had to be the right name.
A few options were bounded about which included Hetty, Jen and even Rhythm (…..is a sky dancer!) but the overall obvious choice was Bo. Bo, after our location – the beautiful Forest of Bowland and Boudicca another formidable female warrior.
Have you met Bo Yet?
Since then, Bo has become such a pivotal member of the team we cannot imagine Cloudspotting 2017 without her. visually striking, she has featured on all our promotional materials including flyers, posters, website, social media, banners etc. Bo will also feature at the festival where we will reveal the second exciting commission by Kerith. Not wanting to give too much away but it’s a mega!
Learning through play
Working in partnership with the RSPB and other activities/arts associates, our Birds of Bowland project has developed immensely to weave throughout our weekend activities programme. Inclusive, engaging, education and creative; our arts package includes Bo and her other feathered friends involved in a variety of activities. Come and be a singer in the Cloudspotting Choir – rehearse throughout the weekend to perform a bird linked song (?) from the main stage on Sunday afternoon. Join other crafters for regular knit’n’chirp sessions to create your own Bo. Leave the festival for a trek through the forest on our sculpture trail to discover 8ft birds; or be involved in the creation of a huge piece of community art, adding colour to our huge canvas Bo. These are just a few of the linked activities and workshops available. For more information, please visit our activities page on our website.
But our work with Bo doesn’t stop there. We are so taken with Bo she will feature on artwork for future Cloudspotting events. We have already been asked to tour Bo and the community developed artwork from the festival as an exhibition in regional galleries and libraries where we will continue to deliver the messages of the RSPB to support our local wildlife so that we can all live together, harmoniously in our modern world.