Dandelion Project Showcase Exhibition opens to public at the National Civil War Centre

Posted on: Friday, April 19, 2024

A project that has helped women to improve their mental health through the escapism of art is now the focus of a brand-new moving exhibition at the National Civil War Centre.

The Dandelion Showcase Exhibition opened today (Friday 19 April) and will remain open until Saturday 13 July 2024.  Entry to the National Civil War Centre and the new exhibition is free to all Newark and Sherwood residents.

The exhibition showcases the beautiful artwork created during the Dandelion Project, where a group of women met to help focus on their wellbeing and make new friends. The women met last summer at the Holt in Sconce and Devon Park and were inspired by natural materials to create wonderful works of art that are now on display in the new exhibition.

Without giving too much away, the exhibition features the group's artwork against a garden backdrop accompanied by the sounds of nature. Also on display is a restored war horse sculpture which had been in the park and inspired some of the groups etchings.

On Thursday 18 April, a special opening ceremony at the National Civil War Centre in Appleton Gate, was attended by the women who took part in the project.

Councillor Rowan Cozens, Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and the Arts, who attended the opening ceremony, said: “I loved the woven bowl and the foraged brushes - also the paper cut dandelion – I like the idea of ideas dispersed freely on the wind like dandelion seeds! The project has encouraged women to step away from the pressures of their everyday lives and immerse themselves in the soothing embrace of art and nature. Where better to hold this than at the National Civil War Centre. Even back in the 17th Century amidst the pressures of civil war, women supported one another so it has come full circle. It was wonderful to see this artwork knowing the story behind it made it very powerful, I encourage everyone to come and see this for themselves.”

The project was led by artist Kristina McCormick. During the creative process the women gathered natural materials to make their own paint brushes from natural materials such as leaves, willow, twigs, feathers and pinecones. The group produced gel plate prints and botanical plaster casts. They also made bowls in a 'wild weaving' workshop using willow and twine. There were opportunities to socialise with tea and homemade cake, helping to form a sanctuary to share experiences and stories, support one another, and build friendships.

Kristina said: “It’s taken a wonderful group of women to a special space. The nature at Sconce and Devon Park is amazing and to see the women grow and connect with their natural environment was wonderful.

"Connecting with nature and through simple, mindful practices, can awaken the senses and support personal expression, communication, social engagement and emphasise a fun, therapeutic element to the experience. It is a reminder that, by intertwining the threads of nature, connection, and art, we can foster a healthier, happier, and more connected community.”

Each of the women had different reasons for choosing the project. One attendee, Katherine, said she gained confidence among a supportive group of friends as well as finding a newfound passion for art: “Before I joined the project, I was very shy because of my mental health conditions, and I couldn’t get out and about. However, the project helped me to overcome my mental health issues and connect with new people in a natural space.

"I am really at peace in Sconce and Devon Park amongst nature. I enjoyed the company of the other women in the group, and we trust each other and Kristina. To see my work in this exhibition is a dream come true as I used to be a volunteer at the Centre in its early days, so it has come full circle.”

Make sure you pop into the National Civil War Centre before Saturday 13 July to see this moving exhibition for yourself. Find out more by visiting the National Civil War Centre website at www.nationalcivilwarcentre.com .

The National Civil War Centre, is located National Civil War Centre, 14 Appletongate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1JY.