Go Bustards

bustard drumming


VisionforWarminster is pleased to support this project which will not only boost the town's business but also help build civic pride. It also accords with our view that there should be some public art in the town as set out in the Vision document in 2008 (click here)

Go Bustards!! – The story so far
By Lesley Fudge
In 2009 I went on the Cloth Road Art Trail. As an artist I go on all the local art trails; we are so lucky to have such talented people around us. I had bought a painting from one of the artists, Melissa Wishart and when I went to collect it after the exhibition, she had a naked fibre-glass lion model in her dining room.
She told me that she was one of the artists for the Lions of Bath. She talked to me about the project and on my drive home, I thought how Bradford on Avon, where she lived and Frome, seem to have an art 'soul' and whilst we have so many really talented people in and around Warminster, it doesn't feel as though we have anything similar.
 I wondered what 'our' icon would be if we had an art project like the Lions and Pigs of Bath, the Donkeys at Weston etc.; the “inspiration”. I am a member of the Hawk Conservancy and the Great Bustard Group and of course, the Eureka! moment was - the Great Bustard.
After all, it's on the Guide and Scout badges, the Wiltshire flag and so many other things and they are being reintroduced on our doorstep on the Plain.

Not only for artists
So the concept was that I didn't want this to be an elitist art project but something that really involved the community to bring people from Warminster and surrounding villages together and to raise the spirits in what is such a difficult time for so many.
I didn't want my vision to be something for only 'artists' and celebrities to be involved with, but little ones, schools, teenagers, military, elderly, able-bodied and disabled alike. It should be totally inclusive. We could enable any group that wanted to be part of the fun to have their own Bustard to paint, decorate, create; even if they had no money.
They would be supported if they needed help by an artist and since this has become 'news' many offers of support from artists and sculptors to make the models to be cast have been given.

We have had Brownies, a village, several elderly groups and schools already asking for their Bustard! A primary school is considering how there might be a pen pal communication with the children from the market town in Russia where the eggs for the reintroduced Bustards on the Plain are sourced. I have of course, discussed the project with David Walters of the Great Bustard Group (GBG) and he is delighted that the profile of this iconic bird will be raised.
Public survey
He has offered prizes for the 'best' Bustard within categories (children, elderly etc), days out at the Hawk Conservancy and Bustard release site and anything else they can do to support the project. A street survey has been started to find out from 1,000 people in four towns, Warminster, Trowbridge, Melksham and Devizes, how many people recognize the Bustard from a photo. “Can you name this bird?” is the question they have been asked – not a competition to give it a name of course! The feedback has been recorded by age; child or adult and gender. The recognition rate is currently low.
When we repeat the survey at the end of the project, we hope that will have been increased and the recognition of our County icon better known about. Wiltshire Council has shown an interest in this being possibly a Wiltshire wide project, so it could get bigger and go further, but I want to focal point to always be Warminster!

2012 is going to be a year of celebration with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics and the launch of a flock of Bustards will be an 'event' in Warminster Park (with the necessary permissions) where hopefully we can through GBG connections with the BBC and RSPB get a celeb to present prizes and have a family fun day.†
There has been positive media interest (Warminster Journal) since the Warminster Town Council grant was made and since the area board meeting (Wiltshire Times).
This will in turn increase tourist visits and as, after the 'event' in the park, the Bustards will either be auctioned or sold or go back to their creators in villages etc, there is a plan to have a Bustard trail. People will be able to have a 'passport' and do the Bustard trail finding all the Bustards and stamping their passport as they find them and winning a prize, probably a Bustard badge when they have collected all the Bustards on the trail - we will add the Bustard locations to 'Google Places' and they can use Sat Nav to find them or be given a simple plan, a bit like a treasure trail. This fun tour of the town and villages will increase business for pubs, shops etc. across our area as will the workup to and the 'event' itself.†

Lasting benefit and business boost
Local businesses will benefit as well. Bustard related items will be available. Jewellers, potters, metal workers, craftspeople, printers etc will all be able to be involved in creating artefacts which will make them very unique to this area. The list is endless and many artisans have been in touch already.†
I would like there to be a legacy from the event. Whilst this is not yet thought through, after the auction/sale of Bustards models, I hope that there will be money to develop at least one lasting benefit and the one in particular that I would like to see is an arts fund for the youth of the town and villages.
Perhaps the "Go Bustards!! Youth Arts Award".†

Youth will be key to the success of this project. We would really like them to lead the way and make their own Bustards in youth groups, schools etc.. We really like the idea (and so do the young people I have spoken to) of the teenagers helping the elderly to make their Bustards; they will then protect their models too.
The extent of the project will be limited only be the number of groups that want to be part of it and the funds we can raise to support them. We have been granted £2000 by Warminster Town Council and have applied for a further grant from the Performance Reward Grant funds through the Warminster Area Board and will know by the end of April if we have been successful. We will be looking for sponsors for Bustards; if there are companies or millionaires out there listening, we’d love to hear from you….
Initially contact can be made with me Lesley Fudge on 07734 176426 and once we are funded for the project – the project team will continue with contacts.