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The John Groom Association

Annette Rolston, Dan and myself working on the copper leaves

The National Trust has been working on this project in partnership with the John Groom Association in Norwich, which is a national charity providing services and support for people with disabilities. The project has been made possible through the generous support of the Norfolk based Geoffrey Watling Charity.


Sound Piece

In conjunction with members of the John Groom Association we created poetry inspired by the seasons, which was later made into a sound piece by Tim Bowness. I also held a workshop with Annette Rolston where the residents painted snowflakes onto copper leaf shapes to represent winter, which has now been hung inside the sitooterie.


The Sitooterie at Blickling Hall
The Sitooterie at Blickling Hall

In August 2006 a 'sitooterie' (a Scottish word for a garden seating area) opened at National Trust property Blickling Hall in Norfolk, UK. This was designed, made and installed by a collaborative team led by myself and including the artist Annette Rolston, crafts-people Teri and Sidney Lockton, Jenny Jordan, metal-worker Ronnie Anderson, Blickling Hall gardeners Ed and Rob, and artist Mike Fenton (see the photograph below).

sitooterie group photo


Annette Rolston's contribution was to design and make the copper-floor flower shape. Taking inspiration from a ceiling rose she saw at Blickling Hall (below left) and the central part of an image of her own called 'Creation', which was doubled up to form a flower like shape (below middle), which was then further refined to make the final design (below right).

flower circle development

The final design is approximately 20 feet across, and had to undergo several stages before it was ready to install. The central central circle was inscribed with a line taken from the sound piece:

"If you listen closely you will hear the earth breathe"

Annette Rolston, Teri Lockton and myself sitting on the copper floor
designed by Annette and built with the help of Sidney Lockton.


Spring, Summer and Autumn Stained Glass Windows

The 3 stained glass windows are designed and made by glass artist Teri Lockton and are fixed into the steel frame. They represent 3 of the seasons - spring, summer and autumn - which are illustrated by leaves from native English trees. The trees also had to be found at Blickling, and needed to have distinctly differing shapes, so Teri chose the oak, the rowan and the field maple. stained glass window photo

The rowan (left), sorbus aucuparia, was chosen to represent spring because it has creamy-white clusters of flowers in May. 

stained glass windowThe English oak (right),quercus robur, is the quintessential English tree – and also the symbol of the National Trust - the oak leaf was chosen to represent summer. 
For autumn the field maple(below), acer campestre, because it has leaves which turn beautiful colours.stained glass window photo

For autumn the field maple (left), acer campestre, because it has leaves which turn beautiful colours.

The stained glass panels are circular, because the circle is a perfect shape, with no beginning and no end, like the cycle of the seasons. Each circle has a border around the outside of the panel which illustrate another attribute of the tree, plus imagery inspired by motifs used throughout Blickling Hall itself.