A CELEBRATION of creative work achieved by participants of Canopy’s Creative Walks in Nature project was held at The West Dean Centre, Bream on Sunday, December 10.

Alison Bruce, Chair of West Dean Parish Council, which supported the initiative, opened the event where poetry was read and music played.

In the early Autumn local residents signed up to join a Creative Walk in Nature and an Art Workshop.

Canopy extended its' Creative Walks in Nature programme by working with the local community from the parish of West Dean over the last 4 months.

Four Walks in the natural environment around Bream and Parkend were offered with participants encouraged to develop their ideas inspired by the walk.

Canopy offered a couple of half day workshops at The West Dean Centre and The Memorial Hall, Parkend for participants to develop their initial notes.

Participants who made sketches, took photographs or wrote words/poems were able to develop these into more substantial works with support from Canopy members Roger Drury, Sara Rickard or Rob Olins.

Andrew MacBean from the Forest of Dean camera club has taken photographs of all the work so that next year a travelling exhibition about Canopy’s Creative Walks in Nature can tour venues across the forest.

Canopy already has a track record of strong engagement with communities in the forest through the arts festivals it has delivered and the Creative Walks have grown in popularity.

A recent Radio 4 programme of Ramblings with Clare Balding was recorded in February and aired on March 2.

Ramblings producer Maggie Ayre commented after the walk: “Today is something a bit different for us, to set Clare the task of walking with a group of creative people, and seeing the walk and the landscape through more artistic eyes.

“It was a very lovely experience and I think it really brought the Forest to life.

“I think the radio programme will really get people interested and want to visit the Forest of Dean because of the way that everyone on the walk talked about it - the ecology, the nature, the wild boar - the magical, special nature of the area I think really comes across.”

Over the last 18 months Creative Walks have developed with a variety of routes around the forest, and most operate at capacity of twelve with waiting lists!

Jenny, a previous participant, commented of her experience: “The workshop was brilliant. It set me thinking about how I have the capability to expand my horizons creatively.

"I was very grateful for generous range of supplies you provided. I only hope more workshops can happen.

"I especially enjoyed the inspiring encounter with the forest at the beginning of the workshop and listening to the words we use to describe the beauty of the Forest of Dean.”