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Trusting nature The National Trust and stately homes are intrinsically linked in the public conscious- ness. So firmly do we join the two that the other work of the trust is often overlooked. Although they care for over 200 properties of ‘importance’ it doesn’t stop there. They also protect forests, fens, beaches, farmland, nature reserves and villages.
Eleanor Pritchard was recently commissioned to produce a work that could correct this common misconception. Her series of large hand woven wool panels celebrate the diversity of the National Trust’s activities. The panels interpret five different themes: Coastline, Woodland, Gardens, Farmland and Buildings, and now hang in the double-height atrium space of the Trust’s new central office, Heelis, in Swindon.
Eleanor carried out extensive research at National Trust sites and also drew on the work of 20th century British painters such as Eric Ravillious, John Piper and Ben Nicholson. Colour also plays a vital role. The Coastline panel explores the blurred horizons between the beach and sea, with graduated stripes in blues and greys that contrast with small colourful elements that represent kites. The Woodland piece is based around birch trees, with textured floss and gimp yarns used to suggest papery bark. The vertical ‘trunks’ were cut and unpicked to create torn layered textures.
Each panel is made up of three lengths joined side by side and the seams were incorporated into the composition. In the coastline piece the central length is inverted, interrupting the pattern and emphasising horizons between the sky, sea and land.
The panels are suspended on a winch system allowing the screens to be raised up as banners creating a large open space, or lowered to create smaller ‘alcoves’ – perfect for meeting to discuss one of the Trust’s many on-going projects.
The National Trust Central Office, Heelis, Swindon T: 0870 458 4000 www.nationaltrust.org.uk s e l v e d g e . o r g