The Springhead Trust was set up in memory ofRolf Gardiner, a pioneer ecologist. He was an organic farmer and forester, a founder member of the Soil Association and,in the face of the growth of industrial farming, a passionate believer in rural sustainability. His wife Marabel was an advocate of the arts, holding festivals, concerts and theatrical spectacles in Springhead’s magical lakeside setting.
In recent years there has been much effort to build upon the couple’s vision for Springhead, creating a centre for creative and sustainable living. However, the work is on-going and many more initiatives are planned for the future.
Today, the Centre encourages techniques and principles associated with a more sustainable way of life. Springhead has replaced its septic tank for a reed bed sewage system; installed a composting toilet in the gardens; invested in energy saving light bulbs; organised a craftsman to harvest and use its willow and has put in place recycling systems, including a wormery that converts kitchen waste to garden compost.
THE ROTUNDA OPEN AIR THEATRE AT SPRINGHEAD
The Rotunda Open Air Theatre provides an outdoor performance space facing a series of tiered terraces in front of the Rotunda, one of the focal points of Springhead’s beautiful gardens.
The purpose of this is to enable the Springhead Trust, whose objects and current activities are primarily directed towards raising environmental awareness, to fulfil its principal purposes by both enhancing the gardens and cultivating the performing arts and widening the outreach of theTrust to the local community.
The new theatre space will see the revival of a Springhead tradition, the staging of dramatic performances and music making by both professionals and amateurs. Importantly, the Rotunda Theatre will provide a unique setting for educational programmes involving, in particular, local schools.
Springhead is a wonderful environment and inspiration for children where they learn a huge amount both about themselves and whatever they are studying; this has ranged from scientific, to arts and humanities projects.
Having the Rotunda Open air Theatre in place will take this to a new level, enabling creative and dramatic presentations and performances to be produced at Springhead. Education is increasingly looking to the creative areas to help children develop fully as individuals and to inspire them; a venue such as this will give them the opportunity to present their work, developing further key skills as well as their own sense of achievement. For many children, especially those living in challenging circumstances, experiences such as this can be life changing and it is an encouraging development in education that the value of such experiences is now being recognised again. Many local, rural primary schools struggle to find appropriate performance venues. For a local school working, for example, on a Shakespeare project based on one of the plays, a resource such as the Rotunda Theatre at Springhead would be a wonderful venue to bring everything together with both residential accommodation and performance. The lake, gardens and local history offer many possibilities for other creative starting points that we could see developing well into the future.
PAST AND PRESENT ARTS EXHIBITIONS AND PROJECTS
Springhead regularly holds exhibitions to promote local artists’ work and in past years has staged a number of major arts projects;
- Wild, Wet and Windy’ arts/science cross-curriculum workshops for Key Stage 3 pupils from 5 local schools (2004)
- ‘Art in the Garden’ 5 professional artists creating artwork and holding drop-in workshops inSpringhead’s gardens during ‘Dorset Art Weeks’ (2004)
- ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Our Ancestors’ arts/history cross-curriculum workshops for Key Stage 2 pupils from 12 schools, culminating in a children’s arts festival (2005). Winners of North Dorset District Council’s ‘People and Places Award for the Most Innovative Arts Project 2005’.
- ‘Our Global Village’ art/citizenship cross-curriculum workshops for Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils from 18 schools, culminating in a family arts festival offering an eclectic programme of drop-in visual and performing arts workshops for all the family to enjoy (2007).
- ‘Lost Friend’ family arts workshops run by artist Darrell Wakelam during February half-term holidays 2008.
- ‘Shakespeare in the Garden’ A production of scenes from the Bard’s best-loved plays with particular emphasis on ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’ (June 2011)
- ‘Elixir’ A new work from Sadhana Dance – an interactive, cross art-form project rooted in classical South Indian dance which presents an engaging performance of dance, visual art and conversation and explores a world with ever decreasing clean water (2012)
As well as running young people’s art projects in the last few years, Springhead organised a children’s dig led by archaeologist and TV presenter, Julian Richards to learn more about Springhead’s ancient site that has finds dating back to Mesolithic times.