Team Ellen Fest 16 has been busy over the last couple of months, putting together a lovely programme of events for this year’s Ellen Hutchins Festival in Heritage Week – 20 to 28 August 2016 in the Bantry area and the full programme is now available for Walking in the Footsteps of Ellen Hutchins.
We are delighted to have a seaweed event on Whiddy Island on Sunday 21st August, a two day Lichen Foray at Ballylickey and Ardnagashel on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th, and on Thursday evening a talk and panel discussion on Ellen Hutchins: her story, her botany and her art, with a pop up exhibition before and after. On Friday 26th August, Bantry House is hosting the pop up exhibition, a botanical art workshop and a children’s nature art workshop, and on Saturday 27th there is a botanical art demonstration in the morning in Organico Café in Bantry and in the afternoon, a botany walk in Glengarriff Woods.
Throughout Heritage Week, from Saturday 20th to Sunday 28th August, there will also be an Ellen Hutchins Exhibition Trail in various venues in Bantry, Ballylickey and Glengarriff, with information panels about The Young Woman, her Work and her World, (seen last year in Banty Library) and prints of her drawings of seaweeds. See the full listings over on the events page and on the Heritage Week website, and put the dates in your diary!
The Heritage Week logo this year, a green tree-like human figure with spreading roots, and the wording ‘people and place’ fits very well for the Ellen Fest events. ‘She was the right person, in the right place, at the right time’ said botanist Donal Synnott at last year’s Festival, a theme picked up in the exhibition material about Ellen’s life and work.
Ellen knew the Bantry Bay area well, and as she lived there, could revisit the same location to see the plants at different times of year. She had a knowledge of the weather conditions and how they affected access to the location and the growth of the plants.
Seaweeds, lichen and mosses were little understood in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Ellen made a significant contribution to scientific knowledge through her perseverance in collecting specimens, her care in preserving them to show their form and colour, and her written observations on where she found them and how they behaved, and what she thought might be going on in terms of fruiting etc. When she became frustrated at the difficulty of capturing in words the nature of ones that changed their form and colour when preserved, she turned to watercolour drawings as a way of showing fellow botanists the details of the plants. She was generous in sharing her knowledge and her specimens, making many friends among fellow botanists.
Her correspondence is the main source of information about her story, and botany publications, of her time and in the two centuries since, show the usefulness of her botany studies to increasing human scientific knowledge and the high esteem in which she was and still is held in her specialist branches of botany and by historians of science. Hers is a wonderful story of person and place, and we encourage you to come to Bantry to hear about it and to walk in her footsteps this August.