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15 December 2017

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Help keep Riverside geese flying! PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 March 2016 12:56

geese at riverside3As Bitterne Park artist Sarah Filmer launches a crowdfunding campaign to keep her Riverside Park geese flying, we chat to her about the story behind the installation, and find out more about why they need a little help....


geese at riverside3

What's the story behind the artwork in the tree at Riverside Park, Sarah?

sarah filmerWell that piece of work was commissioned originally by the National Trust for a winter outdoor installation in 2014. It was hung for a month in the winter garden at Mottisfont.

And it was beautiful! And I then had to take it down, and it lived in my house for a year.

But I thought I'd really like to put that in the park; so I went to the Friends of Riverside Park AGM, and ran it by them, including the nice man from the council, and they all thought it was a great idea, as long as it didn't cost them anything.

And so I took it upon myself to access my friend Dan, the tree surgeon, and various other helpful bodies, to hang it in the trees.

And they are geese?

They are geese. Yes. The original thing was the Mottisfont winter display thing, was part of The Nutcracker, and it was the Land of Snow. So they are theoretically snow geese.

So how is it constructed?

You want to know how all the magic happens... they are basically sheets of mirrored acrylic that are cut on a laser cutter, and then they are suspended on a cricket net. The shapes of the geese were originally from photographs, which were then translated into Illustrator files, fed into the laser cutter, and then magically became appropriately cut acrylic. There are eight different shapes, and different sizes as well.

When did they appear at Riverside Park?

In early January.

And what kind of reaction have you had to the art?

So I decided not to make a big deal, just to pop down there one Sunday morning, hang them up, and see what happened.

Shimmy up the tree?

Send the tree surgeon up the tree for safety purposes, obviously, all harnessed up and everything... so I did it without any hoo-ha ...purely because I didn't see any need for there to be any fanfare: I thought they'd talk for themselves for a little bit.

And they have.

There was lots and lots of Facebook activity, it was on Streetlife, and various other platforms where they've sprung up. So all in all a very positive response.

geese at riverside3


Yes I've seen a lot of very positive feedback.

Yes. No one's said “That's a piece of crap!”.

What I like about them is, when you come over the bridge on a Saturday, they are among other things that herald the 'entrance' to Bitterne Park: there's the Ekco Radio sign, the Veg Shed, the green flag, the clock tower... and now we have these shining, reflecting geese, which are lovely. It's a nice way to enter the area.

I think it's nice for us coming in. I think it's nice for other people who are coming to the Triangle for whatever reason.


geese at riverside2

For me the biggest reason for putting them there was that that park has been my park for the last sixteen years. I've had three dogs along the way, and various children, and have been using that park on an almost daily basis for all those years. I spend a lot of time feeding the birds and walking the dogs, talking to other people, as walkers do, and so I just feel I've had so much loveliness from that park, and it's that thing where you have the opportunity to.... … I mean I don't think the geese make the park any better, or anything like that: it's just a little giving back thing. It's an idea of exchange. Rather than them being behind my eldest son's bed, much to his annoyance!

We were talking about their long-term future...

Yes. I'd thought as far as putting them up, and didn't really think beyond that. And they weathered their month at Mottisfont, which was the end of November through to the end of January really well. But then I realised that's because they were in a much more sheltered space down at floor level, so they weren't subject to a lot of wind...

They must have taken a battering at Riverside?

Well I think we put them up in time for three massive storms in the first two weeks they were up there!

Yes. People were reporting on their progress on social media, weren't they: “The geese are alright. They're still alright...”

And they are still alright in as much as they're still there, but for me we're at the point now where they either have to come down, because they have been so damaged, and some of them have flipped over, and they look very very different from when I first put them up. Which I think most people don't necessarily notice, but for me they're a shadow of their good selves.

We've had to go once and re-tether them a few weeks ago, and took down some damaged ones we could reach. But they either now have to come down or come down, be repaired, and go back up in a more robust form.

There's about 20 geese that need replacing out of 65 in total. I think that can all be done in a day. My plan would be to get my tree surgeon friend back one morning, for him to lower it down for us, fix it... so we need to replace the broken geese and improve the tethering so they can't flip or twist, to make it more robust against the weathers.

I would like them to stay up. They'll get partially covered by the leaves when they come, but then I'm excited by the notion of them being revealed again in the autumn.

geese at riverside1

So you're launching a crowdfunding campaign to 'keep the geese flying'?

Yes. It's on Kickstarter, where you can introduce your project, give it a rationale, and explain what you need the money for, and then people are invited to pledge amounts.

What do you need money for?

The money is for the time it will take, to replace the acrylic which is quite expensive, and to pay my tree surgeon, pay for the fixings, and the Kickstarter commission.

Thanks for chatting about your lovely geese, and good luck with your Kickstarter campaign, Sarah.

If you'd like to back Sarah's project, which will only be funded if at least £700 is raised by Saturday, April 16, click here to go to the Kickstarter page.

• At the time of writing, just a day after launching, the project already has £507 pledged of the £700 total required. Sarah says any money raised over the £700 will be used for other local community projects.

See also: Appeal to keep Riverside geese flying beats target in 24 hours

Previously: Geese fly in to Riverside Park

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