As part of our series celebrating the Year of Natural Scotland, we take a closer look at West Moss Side.
West Moss-side Organic Farm and Centre is a creative place in all senses. It is set in the beautiful landscape and big skies of the Carse of Stirling and on the edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve forms part of the farm ground: Flanders Moss is a huge area of peat bog.
The colours, hues and natural materials were all inspiration for Kate Sankey in the development of the 19th century stone steading and hayloft into a space for meetings, exhibitions, gallery and art and craft workshops.
The building was designed with sustainability at its heart; the floors are all natural materials, the original pitch pine floor of the hayloft, slate, natural coir and linoleum on the floors downstairs, and extraordinarily the main staircase was found on Ebay. There are elm, beech and yew wood finishes, all which were sourced locally.
West Moss Side runs a number of workshops around the year that give visitors the chance to learn a skill from a craft maker, and use the natural resources around West Moss Side to make craft.
The main conservation issue for Flanders Moss is keeping it wet so that the sphagnum moss grows and the peat grows. Getting rid of the scrub birch trees is a constant concern. However, the birch tree provides a wealth of different materials for the creative practitioner. The bark can be used for weaving baskets of all shapes and sizes, the roots for twine, binding and even jewellery, and the wood for carving. Bryce Reynard teaches a workshop on Scottish birch craft and Tom Banks (Wooden Tom) teaches birch bowl carving.
The fields and the woods on the edge of the bog provide yet more materials. Field rush has been used for centuries in weaving. Kate Sankey runs a Christmas workshop each year, in which field rush is woven into delicate pieces. She is now exploring the use of star moss, as well as rush, to make rope in her current work.
All these materials, as well as heather, broom, larch, honey-suckle and willow, provide the rich variety for the Creative Basketry workshops with Georgia Crook.
Paper and print artist Charmian Pollok turns these same materials into exquisite papers. A weekend workshop of 'Totally Natural Paper Making' follows the whole process, from fibre to paper, even using birch ash from the wood burning stove as the lye.
The annual Forth Valley Open Studios (08 to 16 June 2013) provides a way of bringing the whole West Moss-side & Flanders Moss experience together. This year there is a special exhibition to celebrate Year of Natural Scotland called 'Sphagnum Green', with exhibitors including Kate Sankey, Georgia Crook, Bryce Reynard, Jeanette Sendler, Darren Rees, Graham Tristram, Jill Dow and June Waley. Find West Moss Side on the FVOS trail, Venue 19 on the Trossachs route.
Upcoming Workshops at West Moss Side:
- 01 June 2013, Bryce Reynard, Scottish Birch Craft
- 02 June 2013, Darren Rees, Painting the Summer Landscape
- 23 June 2013, Jeanette Sendler, Felt Vessels and the 3D
- 29 June 2013, Jeanette Sendler, Felt & Mixed media
- 17 August 2013, Tom Banks, Carving a birch bowl
- 24 /25 August 2013, Georgia Crook, Introduction to Willow Basketry
- 07/08 September 2013, Elspeth Lamb, Japanese Block Printing
- 28/29 September 2013, Georgia Crook, Willow Weaves’ School
- 12 October 2013, Kate Sankey, Rush and Moss Weaves and Twiddles
- 07 December 2013, Bryce Reynard, Scottish Birch Craft
To find out more, contact Kate Sankey, West Moss-side Organic Farm and Centre, 01786 850428, firstname.lastname@example.org
West Moss-side welcomes visitors, but is not open to the general public except for the Forth Valley Open Studios. Please contact Kate to arrange a visit. You can also buy Organic Shetland beef from the farm freezer and even come and get away from it all and stay for a creative weekend/week in one of the very glamping Trossachs Yurts.