Category Archives: Artspace Members

Over 24,000 visit Beacon Hill Sculpture Trail

Over the last few months, parts of the Beacon Hill Country Park have been filled with ‘tree-people’ and various other pieces of sculpture. The ‘Up To The Beacon Sculpture Trail’, created by ArtSpace Loughborough, and a successor to the award-winning ‘Into The Outwoods Sculpture Trail’ that has run in recent years, featured 34 sculptural installations, a ‘geo-timeline’, and over 80 ‘tree-people’. Sadly, the trail has now come to an end, but Nita Rao, who was lead artist for the project, was happy to see so many members of the public walking around the 2.2 km route at the Beacon Hill Country Park, and to read comments about nice days out on the project’s social media channels. “It has been great to talk to people around the trail and during workshops, with visitors finding the work thought provoking as well as enjoyable”.  

The sculpture trail’s Facebook page is full of people tagging their friends and family members, and leaving comments about their experience of the trail. The reception has been really positive, Nita says. One facebook user commented: “We went last week and had a super time. The little [tree] people were great fun to find.” 

Recurring themes of the sculpture trail included the climate crisis and the importance of biodiversity, addressed by numerous pieces of sculpture produced by various artists. Nita’s Don’t look up, an ostrich and ostrich chick, was one example. The adult Ostrich had its head buried in the sand, unwilling to look to the future, while the chick looked up in hope. Fans of the sculpture trail were tasked with suggesting names for the Ostrich chick – Nita chose Hope to reflect the need to boldly face the future and not bury our heads in the sand in light of the climate and ecological crises we face.  

Other works highlighted the importance of biodiversity. Lisa Denham made a beautiful set of small ceramic birds, and, as well as the ostrichs there were albatross, dragonflies, ants, polar bears, bees, snails and slugs, a fox, an adder, a hedgehog, a bird of prey and two shoals of fish – Nita Rao’s Our gift to nature, willow fish filled with plastic from the river Soar, and Shoal by Sarah Green, hanging fish made from wire and cloth. 

Nita Rao’s Polar Bears, symbolically filled with white plastic and perched on small platforms to represent shrinking ice sheets, also provide a warning for the ecological crisis.  

The trail was nestled in the Upper Beacon at the Beacon Hill Country Park, near some of the oldest rock formations in England. The trail also celebrated these rocks, and the Charnwood Forest’s (encompassing the Beacon) attempts to gain UNESCO World Geopark status for the area, as a historically significant area based on its unique geological heritage including the discovery of the ‘Charnia’ fossil there in 1958, one of the oldest pieces of evidence of complex life. 

This was represented by Nita Rao’s willow Charnia, as well as a ‘geotimeline’, A brief timeline for life on earth, produced by Tony Thory (with illustrations from Ingrid Klein-Daniels and Erica Middleton) which described the evolution of life on earth. It highlighted past mass extinctions, the coming and going of the dinosaurs and the emergence of humans, from 560million years ago to the present. The 17 markers around the 2.2 kilometre trail were placed in proportion with the time passed between events. In this vein, each metre walked represented 255,000 years of time, the emergence of homo sapiens appearing only 1.1m from the end of the trail!  

There was also a ‘fascinating fossil day’ on 20 august, featuring workshops where visitors could create small willow ‘Charnia’, paperclay ammonites and fossil fern prints. The day also featured guided walks around the Beacon rocks with Charnwood Forest Geopark geologist Dr Jack Matthews.  

Out of the 34 amazing installations on the trail, some were created in school outreach workshops locally. The Amazing Ants made by Nita Rao and Lisa Denham, using recycled materials, were made with pupils from Cobden Primary, Limehurst and Outwoods Edge Primary. The six giant Dragonflies were made from steel and willow by Nita Rao in workshops at the Rectory Wildlife Garden and Maplewell Hall School. The Wings installation was a collaboration between Lisa Denham and Glebe House Workskills clients.  

The trail was generously supported by grants from Leicestershire County Council, Charnwood Forest Geopark, Intelligent Energy, Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, Charnwood Arts, Shire Community Grants, the Heritage Fund, Charnwood Borough Council and The National Forest. 

Loughborough ArtSpace, the trail organisers, are pleased to have been able to brighten peoples’ days and help get them out and active in the inspirational Beacon Hill Country Park area. They hope to stage another new trail in summer 2024 or 2025. 

Up to the Beacon Sculpture Trail 2023  – Free and open to all. 10nd June – 17th Sept 2023.  

Up to the beacon sculpture Trail Workshops

Free Workshops at the Sculpture Trail

‘Ways with Words’ – Saturday 24 June from 2.00pm to 4.00pm, ArtSpace member and award-winning writer Mary Byrne will be hosting a creative writing workshop. Suitable for all levels, 13-years plus, booking for this is essential. To book your place please email

Drop-in willow weaving workshop – Saturday 22 July
10am – 4pm. Learn to make your own random weave willow sphere with Nita Rao. No need to book, just turn up and get creative!

There will also be a ‘Fascinating Fossil Day’ sometime in August, including free willow workshops and talks by The National Forest Company Geoheritage Officer Dr Jack Matthews. Watch this space for dates and details.

How to find us :

‘Rhythm & Movement’

ArtSpace Loughborough’s Exhibition At Déda Derby 

17th May – 31st August 2023. Open Mon-Sat 9 am- 4.30 pm. 

ArtSpace Loughborough, which created the phenomenally successful Outwoods Sculpture Trail in summer 2023, has an exciting new venture in Derby. The group of artists from the Charnwood area of Leicestershire has collaborated with Déda, Derby’s dance and performance centre. Members were given the opportunity to sketch and photograph in a selection of dance classes and performances and then use their responses to create work. The result is ‘Rhythm & Movement’, an exciting exhibition of new art. This will run from 17th May to 31st August 2023 throughout the Déda building in Chapel Street, Derby. 

Beryl Miles  ‘Flight’ (oil & cold wax on board)

Ballet and contemporary dance feature as inspiration in the work of Beryl Miles, Ingrid Kleins-Daniels, Mary Byrne, Kate Hooper, Pam Everard and Frances Ryan among others. Sue Barry sketched student rehearsals for a drama performance. 

Other sources for ‘Rhythm & Movement’, not so directly related to Déda’s activities, vary from Judith Eason’s paintings of birdsong patterns and Sally Reayer’s paintings of birds in flight to Gill Hugman-Perkins’s work based on patterns in reflections. 

Sue Barry   ‘Drum Beat Joy’ (mixed media on textile)

Ingrid Kleins-Daniels also organised a collaboration between BA/MA dance students at Déda and MA Fine Art students from Derby University and some of the art students’ work features in the exhibition too. Mary Byrne, who is a prize-winning author as well as an artist, will lead a creative writing workshop, inspired by work in the exhibition, on 18th May 2-4 pm at Déda. 

Kate Hooper   ‘Let’s Dance’ (linocut)

‘Rhythm & Movement’, Déda, 19 Chapel Street, Derby DE1 3GU (opposite Chapel Street car park).

sculpture trail moves to Beacon country park

The renowned ArtSpace sculpture trail will return to Charnwood this June, moving from its previous home of the Outwoods, to Beacon country park. 

‘Up to the Beacon Sculpture trail’, formerly ‘Into the Outwoods Sculpture Trail’, organised by Artspace Loughborough, will open on June 10 and stay in place until September 17. 

The trail, which was run in 2019 and 2022, won Leicestershire Tourism’s ‘Best Free Event of the Year’ award last year. 

This years trail will see a new generation of tree people.

Tony Thory, trail organiser, said: “This summer will see the hugely successful, award-winning woodland sculpture trail reinvented and rising to new heights as it will be staged at The Beacon Country Park for the first time.” 

The Project is being generously supported by Leicestershire County Council’s Shire Grants, The Intelligent Energy Charitable Trust, Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, Charnwood Arts, The Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership Scheme, Charnwood Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council’s Parks Department 

Nita Rao, lead artist for the project, said: “We expect there to be over 25 works making up the trail, which will be based on the theme ‘Harmony and Healing for Planet and People’. 

Lisa Denham’s ceramics will feature again this year.

“Much of the sculpture will directly reference issues of climate change, sustainability and ecology. Through these trail works, and the outreach workshop programme at local schools, we aim to raise awareness of the climate emergency and encourage people to think about our place in the natural world. 

“The sculpture trail will encourage people from different backgrounds to come together, be in nature, engage in the creative arts, and learn new skills participating in workshops. These are all well proven ways to improve and develop community as well as supporting improved mental health and emotional well-being.” 

Nita Rao making a giant willow figure.

So come up to the beacon this summer and discover fascinating fossils, amazing ants, a new generation of ‘tree people’ and much more. It is free and open to all, dawn to dusk, at The Beacon Country Park near Loughborough (standard parking charges do apply).  

Up to the Beacon Sculpture Trail 2023 

Free and open to all. 10nd June – 17th Sept 2023.  

Opening times: Dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. Upper Beacon Country Park. 


JUNE 2ND – JULY 24TH 2022

ArtSpace invite you to come down to the Outwoods between 2nd june and 24th July to discover the 70 tree people lining the 1¼ mile woodland trail, encounter willow bees and dragonflies, the Queen’s horse, ceramic birds and giant woodlice … and much more. The trail will celebrate biodiversity and explore concerns about habitat loss and the climate emergency. We are also celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the 70 years of the Queens guardianship of the people and lands of the UK as part of our project theme ‘Harmony and Healing for Planet and People’ .

The trail is open to all, dawn to dusk, and entry is free.

Free Workshops

‘Trailing Words’: a creative writing workshop – Saturday 25th June 2 – 4 pm. Be inspired by the art on the trail! Creative writing workshop with artist and prize-winning author, Mary Byrne. Suitable for all levels 13 yrs plus. You will need to bring paper or notebook, pen and something to lean on.e.g. a clipboard, and a folding chair will be very useful. Booking essential, see below.

Make Flags of Hope : 11 am -4 pm Sunday 26th June : make textile flags and messages to add to the ‘message in a bottle’ sculpture by Nita Rao in the heart of the woodland trail. Drop-in workshop – no need to book – just turn up and get creative!

To book your place please email me at or call/text 07786 857530. Let us know how many adults and children you want to book in and for which sessions. Thank you.

Very sorry but all Dragonfly workshops are now fully booked !

Come along and make your own willow dragonfly at these free workshops in the crook barn next to the main Outwoods car park 2pm-4pm on the afternoons of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of June. All materials provided. Suitable for all levels. Booking essential.

People of the Trees – Nita Rao

The Outwoods Sculpture Trail goes Platinum!

The Into the Outwoods Sculpture Trail 2022 will open on 2nd June to mark the Platinum Jubilee and help celebrate 70 years of the Queen’s guardianship of the people and lands of the UK.

So ArtSpace invite you to come down to the Outwoods between 2nd june and 24th July to discover the 70 tree people lining the 11⁄4 mile woodland trail, encounter willow bees and dragonflies, the Queen’s horse, ceramic birds and giant woodlice … and much more. The trail will celebrate biodiversity and explore concerns about habitat loss and the climate emergency.

Success with Platinum Jubilee funding from the ‘Let’s Create’ Arts Council scheme means a more substantial trail with more artwork and free willow workshops on the afternoons of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of June, to coincide with other jubilee celebrations. So come along and make your own willow dragonfly at these free workshops (booking via the ArtSpace website essential).

Installation work has begun !

The National Forest have also stepped up to help make this happen by awarding an ‘Arts Grant’ to fund some of the artist’s commissions. They are also funding a public workshop in the woods, free to participants, making ‘flags of hope’ to add to the ‘message in a bottle’ sculpture. This will be a drop-in workshop, so just turn up and get creative. Dates will be posted on the ArtSpace website.

In addition, the public have generously contributed to a ‘just giving’ page to fund more Sculpture commissions. This means the trail will have more than 25 works and co-created sculpture.

ArtSpace for Ukraine

A fundraising exhibition to support refugee families from Ukraine.

1st May – 30 June 2022.

All proceeds from this online exhibition of artwork by members of ArtSpace will be donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC ) to help support refugee families from Ukraine. All artwork is priced at £100 or less. This is a rare opportunity to purchase quality artwork at very reasonable prices. If you wish to make a purchase and help refugees email