Swarm the world flies to Cumbria with blue butterflies

swarm1IF you’ve noticed a swarm of unusual butterflies of late, the truth behind this phenomenon can now be revealed.

They are the work of artist Rachel Chadwick and are part of an international art project called Swarm The World.

This art project was started by Tasha Lewis, an artist living in America. She sent out a plea over the internet for people to participate in a world-wide art project and Rachel, who lives in Frizington, was one of those who volunteered.

The project involved making a collection of 350 butterflies using her own technique with small magnets attached.

The idea was to “swarm” these butterflies in various locations across the world and photograph them.

The images would then be uploaded to various websites and collated together. The butterflies would be sent from participant to participant so that they could travel around the world.

Rachel said: “I had the butterflies for a few weeks in February and March. I wanted to focus on the diversity of locations that are available here on the west coast of Cumbria and the edge of the Lake District.  My first outing with the butterflies was to Ennerdale Water (my closest lake) I knew there would be some interesting locations as not only would I be working with the beautiful landscape of the Lake District but Ennerdale is a reservoir and as such often has industrial equipment relating to the collection and treatment of the water.”

“I also took the butterflies to the old abandoned Kangol Factory in Cleator. I installed the swarm at a few different locations including on the safety railings and on the old access gate. This location offered a dilapidated industrial backdrop for the swam.”

Rachel’s next site was a local church where the butterflies swarmed on the door fixtures and one on the iron fence.

Rachel added: “On the way home I spotted an iron fence with a view up Ennerdale valley where I created a quick installation. “I played around a little with the exposure on the camera to obtain a variety of images.”

Another location visited by Rachel and the butterflies was the Coast to Coast cycle route between Whitehaven and Arlecdon. This is a former railway line and there are remnants of the rail-side furniture still beside the path.

“Many of the seats and other accessories are made from parts of the railway including the track and sleepers. These, along with the road tunnel offered ideal locations for the butterflies,” said Rachel.

And Rachel spent some time at the former Florence Mine.

Here she used the wide variety of locations and backdrops to create some dramatic photographs.

The blue of the butterflies contrasted well with the red of the iron deposit.

Rachel’s next location was at Seascale School where she spoke to the children about the project and they then created their own installations around the school and grounds.

Muncaster Castle was another stunning location offering numerous locations and sites to both show off the butterflies and the scenery there.swarm7

Whitehaven, St Bees, and a mix of the rural and industrial landscape in West Cumbria were also used by Rachel.

Even Egremont Foodbank provided a backdrop to one installation.

Rachel, a student at Lakes College, said: “My final location for the swarm (before I packaged them up and sent them on their way) was outside my house (an old miner’s terrace), I covered my car and parked it outside the house!

“The butterflies were then packaged up and sent on their way (Newcastle next, from one coast to the other!).”
She concluded: “I thoroughly enjoyed having the butterflies to visit and I hope they go on to have many more adventures!”

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