Rowan’s River Cam Project

Rowan’s River Cam Project 

Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund our students have been able to spend time researching contemporary and historical aspects of the heritage of the River Cam. They have had the opportunity to meet people who work and live by the river, as well as visit the organisations that thrive along the riverside.

Earlier this year, Shelley Lockwood and Hilary Cox Condron from ‘Capturing Cambridge’ visited Rowan, and helped to train several of the students in the technique of oral history recording.  Some of the students have interviewed people associated with the river, as well as local people when they have attended Rowan events. The resulting interviews can be seen in the film produced by ‘Capturing Cambridge’ which we will have available soon.

Throughout the last year, all of the tutors at Rowan have engaged the students in drawing, painting and making prints of the River Cam, particularly in response to the various trips made to the river. One of these excursions involved sitting on the banks of the River Cam and making water colour paintings, using water that had been scooped up from the river in jars. Students also created a set of tiles that depict scenes of the River Cam and were made using clay dug up directly from the actual river bank. Inspired by contemporary and historical photographs of Midsummer and Stourbridge fairs, one of the ceramics groups also made these two large coiled pots. 

Having been invited to view a selection of prints made by the Cambridge artist Gwen Raverat, which were brought up from the archives at the Fitzwilliam Museum, another group of students made pencil drawings, whilst observing the prints.  With the help of their ceramics tutor, the students photo-copied their drawings, and placed them onto clay slab circles, pin-pricking their designs onto the clay before firing them, with manganese painted into the cracks. The resulting six plates can be seen below. 

The textiles group, researched the history of the bridges and houses that people lived in along the river Cam, they made a beautiful wall hanging of the bridges along the river, as well as a scrap book with a selection of drawings from the project. 

Inspired by visits to the Museum of Technology, one of Rowan’s many generous volunteers, with the help of woodwork and mixed media students, created the moving mechanical rowing machine; see below!

Our River Cam Project exhibition was a success at our latest Open Studios event. It is now set up at The Museum of Cambridge and then from the 12th August part of it will be set up at The Fitzwilliam Museum. To check opening times and admissions click on the links. 


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