PRESS RELEASE: Art project turns magnifying glass on value of pollinators

The wonder of nature will be turned into a community art installation as part of a wildlife discovery day taking place during the school holidays. 

As well as bee spotting, bug hunts and butterfly counting, participants at the forthcoming Pollinators Day in Oswestry will be able to get creative and contribute to a collaborative artwork.

Taking place this Friday (July 27), the free, family-friendly event will explore pollinators within the different habitats of Old Oswestry hillfort and the Cambrian Railway community orchard. conservation groups, Oswestry Heritage Gateway and CROP (Cambrian Railway Orchard Project), are collaboratingg on the programme of fun, educational activities which has funding from the Three Parishes Big Local. 

After examining insects and flowers close-up using magnifying glasses, people will be invited to capture what they see in picture tiles. These will be framed individually and later assembled into a large and colourful tableau to go on public display. 

Local creatives, Sian Mumby and Diana Baur, have developed the project, ‘Look Closer’, to highlight how the micro-detail of pollinators plays a big role in producing food for the planet. 

Sian Mumby said: “The artwork will aim to show how we need to be aware of the smaller details of life in order to appreciate the bigger picture. In this case, the almost unnoticed work of bees and other insects as they visit and pollinate flowers has much wider effects upon food chains and the environment.” 

Pollinators Day will start on the hillfort with pollinator hunting, counting and identification led by local wildlife experts from 10am to midday. There will also be the chance to take part in the Big butterfly Count 2018, a national campaign by butterfly Conservation to monitor butterfly numbers in the UK. English Heritage, which has guardianship of Old Oswestry, is encouraging the public to carry out butterfly counts at the many heritage sites it looks after up and down the country. 

The orchard will host lunch from midday to 1pm, with more pollinator discovery during the afternoon from 1pm to 3pm including the art project. As a newly added feature, Richard Lewis of CROP will be giving an insight into the evolution of the bee at the orchard’s adjoining woodland where he has established an apiary. 

The event has been organised in response to a nationwide drive to raise awareness about the importance and need to conserve the UK’s threatened wild pollinator populations. Rich in wildlife, the hillfort and orchard are located within 200 metres of each other on the northern outskirts of Oswestry. 

Many plants depend on insects to pollinate their flowers so that they can produce seed as part of their reproductive cycle. In the UK, more than 1500 species of insect pollinators are vital to growing a third of our food. 

Honeybees, which are mostly kept in managed hives, are thought to be responsible for pollinating between 5-15% of the UK’s insect-pollinated crops – meaning 85-95% relies on wild pollinators. Many types of bumblebee, solitary bee, wasp, flyy, hoverfly, butterfly and beetle are big players in the plant growth cycles that put food on our tables, pollinating some £690 million worth of UK crops annually and for free. 

But pollinator numbers are declining at an alarming pace due to habitat loss from factors including urbanisation and the overuse of pesticides. If this trend continues, it is feared that there may not be enough wild pollinators to sustain all the crops needed by our growing population. 

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