Creative Force’s ‘Exploring Marianne North’ Project Awarded National Lottery Support

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East Sussex based Creative Force has received a confirmed grant of £32,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Exploring Marianne North project. 

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to raise a much greater awareness of the inspirational Victorian explorer, artist and botanist, Marianne North who was born and lived for much of her life in Hastings. Working with a number of partners across the town, the project will feature a series of creative events for the public to get to know more about this extraordinary woman, her adventures and her exquisite works.

From May, Creative Force will be working very closely with Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, which sits in the former gardens of and next to Marianne House on the Old London Road where Marianne was born and raised. In Autumn a group of ‘Marianne North Ambassadors’ will receive specialist training so that they can research Marianne North and her life in depth. From this work a cross-curricular programme of work will be developed into a downloadable pack, accessible on a dedicated website for schools to use worldwide.

During the summer a series of presentations celebrating Marianne North, will be held specifically for women around the town and Hastings district to generate more knowledge and understanding of Marianne’s life and, importantly, the nature and impact of her work. Women attending these will be invited to participate in a short series of workshops in July to design and create a booklet about Marianne North and her pioneering life.

For September the Hastings History Group is focusing on developing a new exhibition about Marianne North; the Bohemia Walled Garden will be holding a Victorian day to which Marianne North will be invited and available to speak to visitors. The day will be enhanced by Harmony One singing specially selected songs from the Victorian era; finally the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery will be hosting an afternoon of talks given by Marianne North specialists.

Marianne North was born in 1830 in Hastings. She travelled the globe to satisfy her passion for recording the world’s flowers and plants with her paintbrush. At Kew Gardens, where Marianne North built her own gallery, there are 832 paintings, all completed in thirteen years of travel round the world. She travelled alone over six continents, which was almost unheard of in those days, visiting America, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Tenerife, Japan, Singapore, Sarawak, Java, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Seychelles and Chile.

Her journal relates scaling cliffs and crossing swamps to reach the plants she wanted, with little regard for danger. Some of the plants Marianne North painted proved to be new to science, and one genus and four species were named in her honour, including the ‘Nepenthes northiana’, the spectacular  pitcher plant native to Borneo, which was first brought to the attention of the scientific community by Ms North. Her paintings hang in a specially designed gallery in Kew Gardens still giving a delightful insight into the world’s flora and fauna when they were painted over 150 years ago.

Commenting on the award, Teri Sayers-Cooper, Director of Creative Force said “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Marianne North was a daughter of Hastings whose life and work deserves to be remembered and celebrated. With this funding we are able to bring many people closer to understanding what an exceptional and pioneering woman Marianne was and to appreciate the significance of her work, not just during her life time, but also now, almost 200 years after her birth.”

Michelle Roffe, Head of HLF South East said: “We’re delighted to support local people to explore the life and work of the extraordinary Victorian artist Marianne North in her birth town of Hastings, making valuable connections to her work on show at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.”

For further information contact Teri Sayers-Cooper at Creative Force on 07432 678228 or teri@creativeforce.org.uk.

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