Dreams of Wonder

Sutton Manor Woodland

Dreams of Wonder is a project by the Young Wonders group at Wonder Arts. During 2022-23 they explored the heritage and nature of Sutton Manor Woodland – the site of the former Sutton Manor Coal Mine. Working with artist Claire Weetman, the Young Wonders have explored the site, creating drawings, prints, collage and paper cut outs that reference the nature that lives on the site and the traces of human use today and in the past.

Those designs were made into large stencils and used in a community painting day in April 2023 where 90 people spray painted the artworks across a concrete plateau that used to be used to store coal when the mine was in operation. The pale, white designs reference the shapes of mining architecture, the spirit of community that existed and are placed across the site in sinuous lines referencing how the mine was the ‘backbone of a community’ and repeating the lines of the footpaths that allow the community today to access the site.

On top of this structure were added motifs that reference the nature that now inhabits this site. Leaves, minibeasts, footprints and traces of birds and mammals, flowers and the patterns that we find within water. All of these designs were placed on the man made surface of the concrete, their position determined by the vegetation that finds its home in the cracks between the slabs and where water is drained and dried by the sun to give us a dry surface to paint on. Together we created an artwork about community with the community, about the heritage of the site using part of that heritage as our canvas and about the nature of the site where nature dictates to us where we are allowed to use. As part of this project the Young Wonders have also created a promenade performance around the site and a digital trail to explore the themes of the work.

You can find the digital trail here on Wonder Arts Website

Dreams of Wonder was commissioned by Wonder Arts, supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund and with thanks to Forestry England. Aerial videography by Abdullrhman Hassona.