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Artist has head in clouds with new community project

Lorna and her neighbour Harold by one of the cloud identifier signs
Lorna and her neighbour Harold by one of the cloud identifier signs

A CHRISTCHURCH artist is inviting her community to rediscover their appreciation of the skies by designating her street a “cloud-gazing area”.

Lorna Rees, who back in February installed a display board for contributed artwork and “curious things” in her driveway to keep creativity alive during lockdown, has now put up illustrated cloud identifier signs along her road in an effort to connect people with nature.

“We’ve been introducing themes for the street gallery, and coming into a month known for its changeable weather I thought this would be a great theme that would inspire lots of brilliant artwork for the noticeboard,” Lorna told the A&T.

“We’ve already had our first contribution: a picture of the local school with a beautiful rainbow over it.”

The signs enable passers-by to recognise the 10 major cloud types. They were created with the help of local artist Heidi Steller who came up with the illustrations.

Lorna, of Elizabeth Avenue, runs multidisciplinary arts production company Gobbledegook Theatre, and in 2016 organised a cloud-gazing event called Cloudspaces at Hengistbury Head as part of outside arts festival Inside Out Dorset.

“Hundreds of people got involved,” Lorna continued. “We put out lots of giant beanbags and warm blankets and people put their sunglasses on and could listen to an audio of me telling them all the different types of cloud.

“I’ve been cloud-gazing since I was a kid, but I think as we get older we stop looking up at the sky and appreciating the wonder of the everyday.

“When you really look at them you realise how beautiful and amazing clouds are – they allow us to dream and to contemplate.

“I think it’s so helpful, when we are feeling anxious, for us to just slow down and connect with nature again. It’s so meditative, and it’s democratic because everybody has access to it.

“So, when people come into our street and see those signs they might be encouraged to look up at the sky – I wanted to share that simple joy with them.”

Lorna’s noticeboard has been hugely popular in the neighbourhood and attracts a lot of attention, with people deviating from their usual daily walking routes to see what is on offer.

“One theme we had was Valentine’s, when people put up photos of their favourite couples,” explained Lorna. “We had Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Kylie and Jason, Bert and Ernie, Turner and Hooch, pizza and beer – it was really funny.

“We had a pet theme and heard about one of our neighbour’s friends up in Scotland who had lost and been reunited with her cat.

“We also marked spring with lots of lovely flowers in our gallery, and the town mayor Cllr Lesley Dedman cut a ceremonial ribbon for us on her dog walk to help us celebrate Christchurch.”

Other projects Lorna has worked on over the last year include a Christmas doorstep ‘Caroloke’ and newspapers written and produced by children from her street, which were distributed to all 100 properties.

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