Show-time! 26.10.2007

The Monk’s Park team worked on Neptune’s hill with their dance and choregraphy teacher Lea Hurd, tweaking their routines before the show, and finalising signals and timings with Nathan Hughes and Dark Spark. The show ran slightly late due to trouble on the M4, a bigger than expected audience (approx 350-400), and deer in the middle of the fire drawing minutes before the start. With everything finally ready, the MP crew opened the show with a procession of naiads lit by pyrotechnic gardener Jony Easterby, showing how water flowed to Neptune’s statue some 300 years previously.

the girls count down the seconds until show-time – photo credit – Dan Buzzo

The Monks Park team minutes before the show starts

They splashed liquid from blue glow sticks on their boiler suits, back-combed their hair and carried Ikea spokars in each hand. In the beam of my 10 million candle torch they looked like toxic zombie naiads (NH). The blurred movement in the picture below and their brilliant costumes suggest flowing water.

a procession of zombie naiads starts the show   photo credit – Dan Buzzo

The Monks Park team open the show with a zombie naiad procession

The team continued along the side of the hill towards Neptune, and took up their ‘cascade’ positions while Jony ignited Neptune’s trident. He followed the team’s descent of the hill, lighting small blue flares which illuminated their routine for the audience across the valley on Old Lodge Hill.

pictures and videos relating to the above text will soon complete this article

the following pictures were taken just before the show started
photo credit – Suzanne Burley

minutes before the show starts - photo credit - Suzanne Burley

minutes before the show starts - photo credit - Suzanne Burley

1 day to go – 25.10.07

With one day to go before the show, the Monks Park team arrived to find Dyrham Park buzzing with preparations for the show. They met the other contributing artists’ and worked through a show-plan with Dark Spark and the Lead Artist. They rehearsed their routine and devised new elements with Mr Butcher.

The Monks Park team look at Dark Sparks’ plan for the Fire Drawing with Mr Butcher (Extra Curricular Activities Leader).

The Monks Park team view Dark Spark’s plan for the Fire-drawing

“At my signal, unleash hell!” Nathan working with the Monks Park group.

We devise how the team will find their positions in the dark, ready for their routine, after opening the show by leading a procession indicating how water flowed to Neptune’s Statue. That evening they work untill 2am attaching strips of blue material to their boiler suits to make themselves into Naiads. See images of the procession from the show to see how effective this was.


Final preparation for ‘re-creating’ the cascade which flowed down Neptune’s Hill.

The team had rehearsed their routine off-site, and planned to represent the cascade by through a choreographed descent under a large piece of white fabric. During the course of the day working on site, they decided it would be safer, and improve the routine if they worked on top of the fabric.




Nearly 100 young people from Pucklechurch CE VC Primary School spend a day completing tulip shaped lanterns they have been making with Dyrham Park’s Community and Learning Officer, Ben Meller, who has previously led sessions at the school. The young people have learnt about the history of Dyrham Park’s lost East Gardens and decided to make lanterns for the show, to indicate where formal flower beds once stood.

Off the bus and ready to make tulip shaped lanterns – Yarrr!!!

Off the bus and ready to make Lanterns - Yarrr!!!

Dyrham Park’s Community and Learning Officer, Ben Meller, leads the way.

Young people from Pucklechurch School at Dyrham Park

The young people encounter deer amidst Dyrham Park’s Autumnal colour

Young people from Pucklechurch School at Dyrham Park

Community and Learning Officer, Ben Meller, explains Dyrham Park’s History

Community and Learning Officer, Ben Meller, explains Dyrham Park’s History

A proud maker displays his lantern, constructed from withy and tape
Tulip lantern taking shape

Young people inspired by the deer, improvise antlers with lantern frames

Young people from Pucklechurch School at Dyrham Park

A wizard’s wand to make a tulip lantern!

Ben has a volunteer (she was sat the most sensibly), to demonstrate the penultimate stage of the process. A wizard’s wand with red LED light is secured to the withy frame. This will enable the lanterns to be seen from a distance during the show, where they will indicate the outlines of structures from the lost gardens.

Young people from Pucklechurch School at Dyrham Park

The final stage of the process
The lanterns are covered as the rain pours down, but spirits are high and enthusiasm is not dampened as the young people decorate their lanterns with marker pens.

Young people from Pucklechurch School at Dyrham Park

The process is complete
The young people from Pucklechurch CE VC Primary School have enjoyed a brilliant fun of lantern making at Dyrham Park. They now look forward to seeing how they look in the show.

Young people from Pucklechurch School at Dyrham Park

What a result!
Eventually, the lanterns were used to create a path from the reception area on Old Lodge Hill to the performance vantage point. This enabled the young people from Pucklechurch who attended with families and friends to enjoy and share their contribution to the Project Neptune event.

lanterns made by young people from Pucklechurch school

The evening was delightful. The 17th centaury food and baroque music set the scene wonderfully. We enjoyed the walk through the lighted tulips with the children, some of whom delighted in finding the ones they had made. Then to the vantage point on top of the hill where we experienced the magical reconstruction of the formal gardens in light with explosions of colour. We are so lucky for our children to be able to enjoy our local history in this spectacular way, I’m sure they will remember this for a long time. Congratulations to you and  Ben and everyone who had a part in making this a special event.

Lyn Ford – Pucklechurch School


Ulf leads the team who are dressing the reception area atop Old Lodge Hill, and the viewing point from where the audience will watch the Project Neptune performance.


As Moody Hues, Ulf made major contributions to both Voyage into the Unknown events directed by Lead Artist Nathan Hughes.

Ulf Mark Pedersen and Andy the tree surgeon consider lighting options.


They created a spectacular vantage point from which the audience enjoyed the performance taking place in the valley below.

Turned out nice! 

Muffled Visions create a spectacular vantage point

Muffled Visions create a spectacular vantage point in the woods

Following the path of withy / LED tulips, (an exquisite eye for detail) – the one mirror ball suspended in a tree, lit to cast twinkley, dancing lights over watcher’s heads, sign-posted us to a bird’s-eye view down onto the grand artistry which was drawn out below us.
Karen Smith 

The team tries out their routine on Neptune’s hill. There were some (Lead Artist included), who thought the slope might be too steep and slippery (by October 26th), for controlled rolls and movement, but under Lee’s patient direction, and with lots of giggles, the routine takes shape.


Confusion with the shopping list – “I meant stakes not steaks!”


The shopping list 

the shopping list

The group leave feeling confident with just 26 days to go until show-time!



After several after school sessions spent researching the lost east gardens at Dyrham Park, the Monks Park crew make their first site visit. They have decided to embody the famous water cascade of over 220 steps through a choreographed routine developed with Lee Hurd. As with many who visit the site for the first time, the young women are a little daunted by the size of the whole site, and the steepness of the hill upon which they will perform their routine.

The Monks Park crew

The team gets busy and ideas start flowing like the water in the old cascade.

Lee explains how to recreate the cascade Monks Park style 

Ellis explains an idea -

The experiments continue and more research is undertaken in preparation for the groups first visit to Dyrham Park the following week. The idea currently involves shinning blue light and projecting water-patterns onto performers wearing white boiler suits. These were made of paper, so Nathan is asked to find more durable cotton versions for safety and comfort.

white suits and yellow twirlies 1

white suits and yellow twirlies 2

Early ideas – 12.09.07

Project Neptune Lead Artist Nathan Hughes visited Monks Park School to introduce the project and explain that the aim was to recreate the lost east gardens at Dyrham Park. He emphasised that Heritage Lottery Funds Young Roots projects were led by the ideas of the young people involved. After researching the history of Dyrham Parks’ lost gardens and looking at examples of artists work for inspiration, the group focused on ways to represent the famous water cascade of over 220 steps which flowed down a hill from the Statue of Neptune.

ideas for recreating the cascade using movement and fabric – (video below)



using movement and fabric to find ways to recreate the cascade