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Chase & Chalke - A Wonderful Wander with The Chatterboxes

Updated: Jan 14

Earlier in April, as Artist in Residence with Chase & Chalke, I ran my first workshop with a group of wonderful young people from a group called The Chatterboxes. The Chatterboxes is a youth action project run by young people with disabilities aged 11-25 years old from Bournemouth, Poole and other parts of Dorset.

We met in Martin, a small village near to Martin Down National Nature Reserve on Cranborne Chase. With the village hall as our base, the room was immediately filled with energy and a really bright vibe as soon as The Chatterboxes arrived. Introductions were made, questions flew, dogs were petted and tea and biscuits enjoyed.

The aim of our day was to explore and be inspired by the flora and fauna of this part of Cranborne Chase in the morning, and to use found mark making tools with ink and diluted coffee to make artworks with in the afternoon.

We set off in high spirits, even in the spring drizzle, for a walk to collect twigs, sticks, feathers and the like, to use as mark-making tools later in the day. Everyone had a small fold-out-8-page journal or concertina sketchbook to use on the walk for making notes and drawings in.

We chatted and got to know each other as we walked through the village and en route we stopped to listen to sounds, to look closely at emerging leaves and flowers, to identify the birds, plants and trees and to collect a few botanical specimens to draw later on.

Our walk took us up to Martin Down Nature Reserve, one of the largest areas of continuous chalk downland in Britain. We stopped for a group photo and to look at Bockerly Dyke, an ancient earthwork thought to date from the late Bronze Age, and later used by the Romans, consisting of a broad bank and ditch winding through the downs.

By this time, we were all starting to feel a bit cold and hungry, so we headed back to Martin Club for a packed lunch and a hot drink.

After we’d warmed up, we began our afternoon by experimenting with our mark-making tools to discover the different types of marks each of them could make, and then used them to draw with.

Some people chose to draw from observation, capturing the textures, shapes and markings of their subjects, and others chose to draw from their imaginations, inspired by the morning’s walk, and enjoying the feel and the effect of ink on paper.

I loved this trio of paintings, below, made by Jordan.

And this one by Jasmine.

And these...

It was all too soon before the minibus arrived to take the group back to Bournemouth. It was an absolute joy to spend the day with The Chatterboxes and I’m hoping to meet them again soon.

Find out more about Chase & Chalke here.

Find out more about my Artists’ Residency here.

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