The Roaming Flags of Bumble Hole

The Roaming Flags of Bumble Hole

Amazing views to the west from the Black Bank aka the Pudding

I worked with fellow Walkspace members, artist Andy Howlett, and singer/songwriter Bethany Kay Hopkins, to co-lead a project to make a series of flags celebrating the nature and waterways of Bumble Hole Nature Reserve in Dudley with the local community and volunteers from the Friends of Bumble Hole.  You can see a short video about our project here.

Cobb’s Engine House provides a hint to the reserve’s heavy industrial past

The 10 flags and 30 smaller pennants were dyed using natural materials with colours inspired by the Tibetan Prayer Flags sequence: each representing a different element: blue for the sky, white for the air, red for fire, green for water and yellow for earth. Plant dyes included elderberry, silver birch bark, madder root, nettle, alder cones and weld. Rather than being an exercise in patriotic territory claiming, the flags represented nature asserting its own stake in the land.

Our walks focused on each of these elements in turn, at different points on the route. The designs incorporated cyanotype printing, stencils, stamps and fabric painting with words gathered from project participants in response to the nature reserve. 

The project culminated in The Earth Parade a public ceremonial procession of the flags around the reserve in which participants celebrated their collective stake in nature’s abundance. The parade was accompanied by sing-a-long renditions of original and traditional folk songs drawn directly from the local area and its historic waterways and industries.

The project was part of the Dudley Creates Summer of Creativity in 2022.

This project was supported by Creative Black Country as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places National Portfolio programme, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC) and support from CoLab Dudley.