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New eco play area created by Nottingham College students

Art and Design students at Nottingham College have worked with local community artist Shamila Chady to create a unique willow sculpture, in the shape of a giant person, for Highfields Park on University Boulevard In Nottingham. ‘Youth Willow’ provides an interactive natural play area for children.

The 17 Level 1 Introductory Diploma in Art and Design students have spent five days working with Shamila and Highfields Park staff from Nottingham City Council at the park. They first came up with ideas and made miniature models using found materials and upcycled pieces of wood, then worked together to choose one design to make into a reality.

The group finished by using willow weaving techniques to create a living sculpture with areas designed for children to explore.

The Park Rangers team from Nottingham City Council helped the group throughout the project, and together they installed a commemorative plaque at the sculpture on Wednesday 26 June.

Nottingham College Art and Design student Oliver Copper from Netherfield was part of the group. The sixteen-year-old said: “I’ve liked the outdoors part of the project the best as I do Scouting. The woodwork we did is basically bushcraft, and I love bushcraft.” Oliver is going on to study Level 2 Photography at the College in September.

Shamila Chady said: “I was completely blown away by the energy and enthusiasm of the group while working on this project. The students worked together as a team and created something truly amazing that will be in the park for others to enjoy for years to come.”

Shamila explained that the project provided an opportunity for young people to gain experience of new materials and ways of working, and to spend quality time outdoors in the natural environment. Shamila said: “I think this is hugely important in today’s world. I can’t wait to do another project with Nottingham College next year.”

Highfields Park Ranger Steve Clarke supported the project. He’s passionate about creating things on the park that are very natural, to complement the more formal play areas.

Steve said: “My remit is to work with diverse groups in the community and get people enjoying the park. The students have essentially been volunteers, and so as well as giving them skills, the project has benefitted the park.”

The sculpture is free to enjoy, and can be found at Highfields Park, behind the mini golf and next to the boating lake. This summer, Youth Willow is also part of Nottingham City Council’s new reading and numeracy camp, StoryParks.

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