Appleby Flood Project

Due to popular demand, you can now walk and enjoy the trail until 30 October!

In 2015, Appleby was devastated by Storm Desmond with many residents and businesses still rebuilding their homes and businesses today. Following the flooding, we have been working with the local community to support the recovery of the town and the river.

The Appleby Art Trail project has involved two local artists, Karen Babayan (recently named Cumbrian Artist of the Year 2016) and Debra Esterhuizen, working with local residents to create felted sculptures to be installed as a trail along the river Eden in the town.
The aim of the project is to encourage people to share and express their ideas and experiences of the river through creativity and the arts. We hope that the resulting trail will encourage people of explore the river and think about and its impact on people’s lives.

The sculptures represent residents' and artists' reflections on the impact of the flooding on the community. Their creation has provided an outlet for the emotional and physical upheaval caused by the floods.

Eden Rivers Trust are extremely grateful for all the local residents and community groups who took part in the project including: Appleby Primary School, The Friday Club, 1st Appleby Scouts and 1st Appleby Brownies.

The Workshop/Healing Process

The artists held seven workshops in July and August 2016. The artists described the workshops as, “A cathartic, healing process”.

People who have been affected by the floods were encouraged to create felted fabric and to tell their story as they felted. The felted fabric was then used to create the artwork (garments, sofa etc.) for the trail.
This process aided the understanding, expressing and sharing of participants’ experiences of the river - assisting recovery from flooding. The participants' stories were captured and incorporated into the art works created and used as part of the interpretation of the art works.

As part of the project Appleby Primary school children took part in a meditative walk by the river, to take time to think about nature and life. A seven-year-old pupil from Appleby Primary School, discovered a heart-shaped hole in an ancient Horse chestnut tree.

“We took a ‘mindful’ walk with Yr3/4 pupils down to the river to observe the beauty of the river restored by nature and to talk about the cycle of destruction, resilience and restoration. We realised that when we take time to slow down and observe the reality of nature, we are better able to appreciate our place in the larger scheme of things”.
Karen Babayan, Artist.

Visit the sculpture trail

The Sculpture trail can be visited between 20th August and 30th October 2016 (extended by popular demand!).

Download a leaflet (bottom of page) or pick one up from the Appleby Tourist Information centre or selected local shops.

The trail is located on the public footpath which runs alongside the river between Bridge Street and Holme Street Bridges.

Read the stories ...

During the workshops, the artists collected a range of very personal experiences and stories which highlighted the huge impact the flooding has had. You can read some of the stories here.

"The most weird moment during the height of the floods was in the middle of the night, no lights, no people, no cars.  It was the silence which was the most unsettling." Resident of Holme Street.

Capsticks Carpets, a business on The Sands was flooded:
"We filled 16 skips with stuff from my grandad’s shop.  It was so sad - that was all the carpets people had ordered for Christmas."

Children from Appleby Primary School expressed their grief through words on a class mural:  mortified, frightened, amazed, sad, terrified, angry. 

Harold who has dementia, used to live at Edenside and has no, been displaced, with great sadness, to a home in Penrith. When he comes to the Friday Club which is at the Guide Hut opposite Edenside, he goes to try to get into his former home and cannot understand why he is not able to. 

"I thought I was going to die …" Eight-year-old child.

"I came in on the second day of the flood, once the water had subsided.  There was still three inches of water in the café with teapots, parsnips and onions floating around." Café owner.

The Scout hut, the building closest to the river, was totally flooded out, so the group had to meet elsewhere.  For over eight months, these lively kids were unable to access outdoor play and the riverside.
The Scout hut was finally reopened after extensive renovations and improvements, including larger windows so the Cubs are now able to see and explore the river and surrounding area during sessions.

Share your story of the Appleby floods

If you have a story to tell about how the floods affected you we'd love to hear it - whether it's sad, funny, frightening or heart-warming.

Please complete the Share Your Story online form. Your story can then be included on this web page and in the archive we are creating about the project.