Looking good now
The multitude of golden black-eyed Susan is setting the Autumn Garden aglow.
The multitude of golden black-eyed Susan is setting the Autumn Garden aglow.
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Roll up! Roll up!

For the Grasshopper's Green Herbarian Band

Students from Red Balloon-Cambridge were earlier this week oiling their antennae and polishing their carapaces before metamorphosing into the Grasshopper’s Green Herbarian Band to make a unique, music video film at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

The film was the culmination of a series of creative workshops that ran throughout September. Artists from the Insect Circus and Escape Artists worked with students from Red Balloon-Cambridge to provide four enjoyable and engaging workshops for young people who have been the victims of bullying. The sessions took inspiration from the Garden’s diverse plant collections and seeing nature at work, and have included creating a storyboard for the video, designing insect costumes and performing.

On Monday, the Grand Travelling Insect Circus arrived at the Classroom of the Botanic Garden for the students to explore the extraordinary mechanical menagerie inside. The students then made final tweaks to their costumes and came to life as the Grasshopper’s Green Herbarian Band. A Giant Wasp, iridescent butterflies and emerald caterpillars then performed in a series of musical tableau through the Garden. Every student chose their role, from official photographer to wardrobe mistress to director to lead insect!

The intriguing band name is taken from the lyrics of Octopus on The Madcap Laughs, the first solo album by Syd Barrett after he was replaced in Pink Floyd by his Cambridge schoolfriend, Dave Gilmour. The music video was shot throughout the Botanic Garden, including around the Fountain, where there is a bench donated by friends and fans in memory of Syd Barrett.

Dr Sally Marsh, project co-ordinator at the Botanic Garden, said:

'We wanted the project to provide an enjoyable experience to lift spirits, encourage team work and creative thinking among the Red Balloon students. It has been incredible how imaginatively the students have responded to the Garden. They have created some amazing insect masks and their ideas for the music video have given us a whole new perspective on the Garden.'

Jessica Lechner, Coordinator of Red Balloon-Cambridge said:

'We are delighted that our students have been given the opportunity to shine and develop their skills through this wonderful artistic project. The use of art and the media has been a fantastic way to build their confidence and help them on their way to becoming active members of society.'

Funding received through the Percent for Art levy associated with the new Sainsbury Laboratory under construction at the Botanic Garden has enabled the development of a Community Arts Programme to run from 2010-2012, designed to encourage local or ‘hard to reach’ groups to explore and enjoy the Garden. The Grasshopper’s Green Herbarian Band project is one of the first Community Arts Programme projects made possible.
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