Pupils flocking to House of Dun for new art project

Schools from Montrose and across Angus are taking a starring role in a new arts project based around Montrose Basin and the House of Dun.
Part of the project will be based around birds which feature in the art and artefacts in the house itself.Part of the project will be based around birds which feature in the art and artefacts in the house itself.
Part of the project will be based around birds which feature in the art and artefacts in the house itself.

The pupils will be taking part in a series of bird-themed creative workshops, inspired by the Basin and the house’s own collections, with their art and poems being exhibited at the house in time for Earth Day 2023, on April 22.

The project, called ‘Flock to House of Dun’, has been created by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), supported by funding from The Wild Escape. The conservation charity’s successful bid to the UK-wide initiative was announced by Museums Galleries Scotland and will enable 100 school children to take part in the free activities.

Inspiration for the subject matter comes from the rich variety of bird species found on Montrose Basin and the abundance of birds in the collections of art and artefacts, as well as the poem ‘Wild Geese’ penned by one of the house's most famous residents, Violet Jacob.

Inspiration will come partly from the birdlife found on the Basin.Inspiration will come partly from the birdlife found on the Basin.
Inspiration will come partly from the birdlife found on the Basin.

The idea for the project came from Sarah Cowie, NTS’s senior heritage learning adviser, and Scott Byrne, operations manager for the trust’s Angus cluster.

Scott said: “The Wild Escape is a UK-wide project uniting museums and schools in a celebration of wildlife and creativity. Given the House of Dun’s unparalleled views over the Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve, which is home to over 100,000 migratory birds, it was a natural choice to focus our project on the birdlife around the House of Dun, including in the property’s own collections.

“We’re thrilled that our funding bid has been successful and are excited to start working with local primary school children on the activities we have planned for 2023.”

Activities will include exploring how birds feature in the house’s collections, from an ostrich-themed candelabrum to parrots and macaws hiding in tapestries and fire screens. The NTS ranger team, supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust based at Montrose Basin, will also organise activities around the estate.

Sarah added: “By the end of this project, we hope that pupils and teachers will have a greater understanding of their local area and the wildlife and biodiversity on their doorstep, and a stronger sense of connection to House of Dun.”