Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Totem pole display to mark autumn equinox

RESIDENTS of Whitchurch are being invited to take part in another public art project for charity.

Gill Williamson, who runs the village’s weekly Art Café at the Old Stables in High Street, intends to set up a series of Native American-style totem poles on Pangbourne Meadow in either May or September next year.

The project, named Equinox, will be themed around the seasons and will raise money for the various charities and community groups which host the Art Café.

It follows a “yarn bombing” exercise in the spring in which Mrs Williamson and scores of volunteers covered Whitchurch Bridge in knitted and embroidered artwork and raised £5,000.

The totem poles will consist of fence posts with sections of ceramic tubes threaded over them and each one will be painted by a different person. Those representing spring and summer will be taller to reflect the greater number of daylight hours in those seasons.

The poles will be arranged in a series of Fibonacci patterns, a type of spiral that becomes tighter as it approaches the centre.

This pattern is commonly found in the natural world, such as the arrangement of florets on flower heads or the shells of molluscs. Mrs Williamson, of Eastfield Lane, Whitchurch, has permission to stage the event in May but she hopes that Pangbourne Parish Council will allow her to run it in the weeks leading up to September 23.

This is the autumn equinox, when daylight and night-time hours are roughly equal.

She came up with the idea while visiting the Royal Hospital Chelsea last year to recruit some Chelsea Pensioners for the yarn-bombing project and saw them making totem poles in their pottery classes. Next month she will begin a series of workshops where people can make, paint, glaze and fire the ceramic tubes.

Mrs Williamson said: “I’ve done a few test sessions which have been great fun and people have really enjoyed making them.

“The Gap Festival in Goring has agreed to take part and I’m hoping that our schools will get involved, as they did last time.

“We’ve got quite a big space to work with but I haven’t decided on a particular size for the work.

“It will all depend on how many people take part — the more, the better.

“A lot of the people who took part in the yarn-bombing have been very enthusiastic about taking part but I may add a textiles element in due course to broaden its appeal.”

For more information or to express an interest, email

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