Top image: Hannah Brackston (centre) at the Sunday Cake Club

While Artist-in-Residence on South Walney, artist Hannah Brackston heard locals express their desire for a small café for visitors. The Sunday Cake Club was a playful test of that idea in practice.

Image below: The Ancient Warrener’s Doodle Cake, the Sunday Cake Club. Cakes by Hannah.
Concept Hannah Brackston and Stuart Bastik

The Sunday Cake Club

To aid delivering the Masterplan and Hides projects, Art Gene commissioned artist Hannah Brackston to undertake an artist residency (via an number of short residential visits) on the South Walney Nature Reserve. The following text and images are her own notes and research as she sought to learn about the island and respond creatively to the wealth of information she was gathering.

“We are all experts in something. For people living and working on South Walney expertise includes the subjects of migratory birds, salt, oysters, seals, lighthouses, caravans and gulls. It was essential for both the development of the Masterplan and the Hides to understand the reserve through the eyes of these people.

My residency began by seeking out and meeting the diverse and sometimes conflicting inhabitants and groups active on South Walney, to discus and document their perspectives. Conversations took place in their spaces, from the top of the lighthouse to the oyster seed laboratory. Meetings included; Cumbria Wildlife Trust wardens, assistance wardens, marine biology graduates and many of their volunteers, the Walney Bird Observatory Group, director and staff of the Oyster Farm, present and previous residents of the Coast Guard Cottages and Light House, Members of Walney Wild Fowlers Association, local farmers and managers of the South Walney Caravan Park.

Through these meetings I struck a particular relationship with a couple of the volunteers who helped on the reserve on a Sunday and who had talked about their aspiration for seeing some kind of small café for visitors.

The ‘Sunday Cake Club’ was a playful test of that idea in practice, existing of a number of one-off cake events held on Sundays, assisted by these volunteers. By slightly re-configuring the space at the start of the trails, hanging up a wonky hand-painted sign and doing some playful baking the night before, we laid on a bit of hospitality, socialising and humour – exploring practically what the demand for this kind of facility might be, and how it could function as mechanism for sharing a moment to pause and celebrate what’s been seen, whats special about that season or tide – really anything and everything about the reserve.

‘The Ancient Warrener’s Doodle Cake’ (complete with edible raisin droppings coated in marzipan and cocoa dust) was a homage to the history of Walney Island, as one of its first known uses was for farming rabbits. In a similar way, served alongside the old photo of a famous former warden,The ‘Walter’s Hat Cake’ (topped with white chocolate splatters), mimicked the appearance of the guano dirty hat that Walter Shepard was never seen with out.”

Hannah Brackston, 2016

Image below: The Walter’s Hat Cake, the Sunday Cake Club.
Cakes by Hannah. Concept Hannah Brackston and Stuart Bastik