Way to wander
Now that’s some crowd setting off on a balmy Saturday evening from National Trust property Basildon Park – but it doesn’t tell the whole story because some 700 people chose to connect with and journey through the landscape of the North Wessex Downs.
They were attending Wayfaring, a free outdoor art installation and performance, created by artists Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby, who work together as And Now:. The characters of Wayfaring took the visitors on a dusk journey through the woods and into the landscape of Basildon Park, where they discovered the Wayfaring installation, which was bought to life with theatre and music.
Earlier in the week, 400 children from Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire had learned about the chalk landscape and its habitat, and contributed to the Wayfaring art installation, via a schools engagement program run in partnership by the Corn Exchange, Newbury and The North Wessex Downs. And a group from Oxfordshire Mind, a charity supporting people with mental health challenges, also experienced Wayfaring as well as the historic landscape, and habitats within the Basildon Park Estate.
Not surprisingly, those who help care for this beautiful part of our country were delighted by the response. Henry Oliver, Director of the North Wessex Downs, says: “Wayfaring has been a magical experience for all who visited the event. By looking through the lens of art, it has enabled at least 1,000 people to experience and connect to this fascinating chalk landscape, which hopefully will inspire more to come and enjoy the countryside”.
Wayfaring is inspired by ancient chalk landscapes and the Icknield Way, which is claimed as the oldest road Britain.
The project was produced by Activate in partnership with the North Wessex Downs AONB, the Corn Exchange Newbury, 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Space and the National Trust, with support from the Arts Council.