Warnham Nature Reserve has seen some unusual activity over that last couple of weeks, as volunteers from the Green Gym have been moving tons of reclaimed Horsham Stone. Under the guidance of Lewes based artist Will Nash, the volunteers have been learning the skill of dry stone walling in order to construct a Bat Bothy for the reserve. At once ancient and contemporary, the elegant sculpture designed by Will Nash is in the form of a tall dome or chimney referencing the industrial heritage of the nature reserve, and providing a new habitat for roosting bats.
The Bat Bothy has seen particularly strong and determined green gym members using the lifting gear and being fastidious in the placing of each stone. Helped along by wardens from the reserve, the Bat Bothy is now complete and stands a little over 2m tall. The sculpture has many nooks, crannies and little tunnels for the bats to crawl through so that they can roost in the interior. The stone is a perfect material to maintain an ambient temperature and keep them dry through the winter. Reclaimed from the Peace Garden (near St. Mary’s) when the paths were renovated, the horsham stone has also found a new home.
The reserve has regular visitors of Daubenton Bats feeding on mosquitoes that rise up from the lake. Known as the ‘water bat’ the Daubenton’s fish for insects from the water using their large feet and tail. Along with soprano and common Pipistrelles, they are regularly sighted, but their roosts are unknown. The wardens are hoping to use an endoscope to view the interior of the bothy and survey the numbers and species of bat living in the reserve.
As a conservation project, the green gym members said that it was great to work on a project from start to finish with a very particular outcome. Usually the 50 or so members are working on a variety of projects across the Horsham District on a Tuesday and Thursday and may not see an end result.
Later in the year Will Nash will be returning to the reserve to create a second sculpture, this time using chestnut palings to explore the form of a tri-helix. The two sculptures form part of the arts project ‘Field Notes from Warnham’ as a permanent outcome for the Reserve and The Horsham District Year of Culture.
Generously supported by The Arts Council England, Horsham District Year of Culture, and Friends of Warnham Nature Reserve.