woods, north yorkshire 2011
to make and site geo art caches in the woods at Hackfall,
Now owned by the Woodland Trust, the woods were
bought for £906 in 1731 by
John Aislabie and it was his son William who built follies,
grottoes, surprise views, waterfalls and a fountain.
The project was commissioned by Chrysalis Arts.
The story of Emily Ivy, a local amateur naturalist,
explorer and storyteller became the focus for my research.
page of Emily Ivy's sketch book:
Ivy was born in Grewelthorpe on 4th
March 1801. Her father William was a straw bonnet maker and
her mother Agnes was a domestic servant. She had two
younger brothers: William and George.
She spent most of her childhood exploring the woods at
Hackfall and became a straw bonnet maker when she was 12
It was on one of her excursions to Hackfall, in 1816, that
she met JMW Turner: it’s rumoured that Emily could have
been the inspiration for the figure in Turner’s “Hackfall,
near Ripon” painting held in the Wallace Collection.
This chance encounter with Turner and seeing his sketch
books seems to have inspired the young Emily to start her
love of drawing that continued throughout her life.
from Emily's sketch books:
It’s not thought Emily Ivy had much opportunity to travel
further than Masham and surrounding villages, but with so
many artists and writers visiting Hackfall it’s thought
this is how her imagination was encouraged and her style of
Emily Ivy did many sketches and drawings of the wildlife at
Hackfall throughout the seasons in a little notebook that
she kept with her while she walked. Three of these
notebooks, along with a few drawings on scraps of paper
were found in a small box of her belongings after she died.
Emily never married or had any children. She died of
influenza in winter 1831 at the age of 30.
It is in one of Emily Ivy’s notebooks (dated 1826) that the
bird, bat and insect box sketches were discovered. Inspired
by the follies around Hackfall, Emily conjured up
enchanting little dwellings for the wildlife she felt so
well acquainted with.
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