The enclosed courtyard garden at Stowmarket Library in Suffolk has recently undergone a remarkable transformation. The library teamed up with local art gallery Fox Yard Studio and sustainable architecture specialists Modece to reimagine the garden as a vibrant community space for all to enjoy. Inspired by the image of book-binding, the project is named 'Stitching Stowe', and weaves together stories of Stowmarket, past, present and future. Stories have been collected from many sources including community engagement events. In Summer 2021, twelve artists were commissioned to interpret those stories and themes on a zodiac of mural panels, each in their own artistic style.
Ipswich artist Loïs Cordelia was chosen to create a mural on the theme of the extraordinary biodiversity of the Stowmarket riverlands of the Rattlesden and Gipping.
She was introduced to local resident Judith Thompson, who kindly showed Loïs around her beautiful riverside small-holding and told her in great detail about some of her magical encounters with the native wildlife.
The mural design was largely inspired by Judith's poem Foreverland which is woven into the riverland map in the centre of the mural itself. Loïs managed to squeeze in fifty-one species (see key below) of animals, trees, plants and fungi, sculpting each one using modelling paste and palette knives, and then bringing it to life with iridescent acrylic paint colours. Foreverland celebrates the extraordinary biodiversity of the River Rattlesden and also of the River Gipping before its canalisation as the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation in 1793.
In the words of the Reverend A G H Hollingsworth (in his 1844 book The History of Stowmarket):
"... down to the year 1790 the Gipping presented a scene of quiet beauty, peculiarly English, undisturbed, and partaking of the gentle features of the richly wooded park, or verdant farm .......... as if the river loved to dream ...”
Stowmarket's two rivers led to the town’s growth and prosperity through the ages and this mural especially reflects the rich biodiversity currently evident along the River Rattlesden valley. This valuable wildlife corridor which provides a mosaic of habitats is worth protecting, especially now when we are coming to realise that so much wildlife is under mortal threat.
The highly tactile, semi-relief mural is now on permanent public display in the newly refurbished Stowmarket Library Garden.
Loïs has also been recently commissioned to create one of eight sculptures for the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket, on a similar theme to her Stowmarket Library mural, scheduled to be revealed in Spring 2022.
Key to the Mural