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Boneless: Volunteers-in-Residence for Action Research week, Grizedale Arts

Boneless: Volunteers-in-Residence for Action Research week, July 8th-14th 2024

Grizedale Arts is looking for 3 creative volunteers to join an exciting week-long action research residency at Lawson Park in high summer, 2024, led by expert ecologist-in-residence Rachel Richards (B-Lines officer at national conservation charity Buglife) and Karen Guthrie (artist and Grizedale Arts Head Gardener). The residency contributes to the nationwide Bees Needs Week 2024.


We seek people who are resourceful and collaborative, with a demonstrable interest in ecology, botany and / or the environment: You could be an artist, crafts person, curator or designer, or perhaps you come from a different background altogether. You need not be an artist to apply.

Why Invertebrates?
In 2023 we commissioned a baseline ecological survey for our two sites – Lawson Park and The Farmer’s Arms, giving us a renewed focus and direction for projects and approaches to enhance further our biodiversity, such as improving our ponds, meadow management, and habitat creation. We value all of what happens at Lawson Park, macro and micro, and we want to record it and share it. It all matters, and we need to better protect the stuff we can’t always see, just as we already protect the art and design in the residence, the books in the library and the plants in the gardens. By offering creative people expert knowledge, we lay the foundations for future art projects that can reach new audiences and create change.

By sharing what we find, we invite existing and new audiences to engage with and – hopefully – take action to protect and celebrate biodiversity in their own environments.

What will we do on the Residency?
Under the expert guidance of Rachel, we’ll identify and record invertebrates in the diverse habitats at Lawson Park and nearby, using both simple and high tech tools in the field and back at base. We’ll improve our habitats for the benefit of bugs, and perhaps identify some kinds of beneficial spaces we don’t have yet but could make that week. There will be a couple of sessions where Rachel will train staff and additional volunteers in how to monitor any space for bug life, and a bug walk through our land at at The Farmer’s Arms. There will be lots of hands-on environmental work, some ‘gardening’ too and plenty of discussion, awe and laughter.

This residency is supported in part by Buglife and The Wild Flower Society

Notes For Applicants

Volunteers will be based at Lawson Park, our wonderful smallholding and artists’ residency high above Coniston Water on the edge of Grizedale Forest.

Now over two decades in the making, Lawson Park is an experimental landscape with many ongoing projects including climate-change resilient food growing, rainwater management and wildflower meadow enhancement. The aim of the land use at Lawson Park is to extend and interpret the role of Grizedale Arts as an interdisciplinary organisation: To be stimulating, surprising, inquisitive, experimental, collaborative, communicative and sometimes countercultural. Growing in reputation locally and nationally, the gardens recently featured on BBC Gardener’s World. Head Gardener Karen Guthrie and colleague Grace Holland have also developed a trial soil-less garden at Grizedale Arts’ pub, The Farmer’s Arms, working with acclaimed horticulturalist John Little. ‘The Ungarden’ uses only locally available aggregates and direct sown seed, and will run for two seasons. 

Volunteer days run from 9am – 5.00pm, with a 20 minute tea break in the morning and an hour off for lunch, which we eat together. We get all sorts of weather even in summer, and it’s important to note that our volunteering tends to be physically demanding. Towards the end of the residencies volunteers are invited to have an informal one to one de-brief (for former art students, you could call it a tutorial) with any member of our staff. Throughout the residencies there are many opportunities to share ideas and gain feedback on your career, studies or future projects, although it’s important to note that we expect volunteers to commit full-time to the opportunity whilst they are with us.

The volunteer residents may also (if it rains a lot) spend time contributing to online research, web site development and archival work relating to Lawson Park, its ecology and plant collections.

We strongly recommend that you read these Blogs by previous volunteers: They’re the best way to get a feel for what typically happens and the powerful impact these residencies make on those who take part. 

Access & Accommodation note: Lawson Park is fully wheelchair accessible. One double ensuite bedroom is also wheelchair accessible. Volunteers each stay in a private bedrooms with ensuite, with access to a well equipped kitchen / diner, clothes washing facilities lounge, utility room and library. All food is provided.
Please contact us in confidence for more information if you have access concerns or would like to know more about the accommodation.

The deadline for applications for this call-out is midnight on Friday 26th April 2024. 

  • Your application should consist of a single document including a C.V and a covering letter detailing your skills, interests and reasons for applying(Word or PDF, max 3 x A4)
  • If you want to apply to two volunteering opportunities at once, please upload your document to both periods’ application pages separately – it’s fine to use the same document twice though
  • We receive many more applications than we have places, so we are looking for people whose experiences and interests will add new dimensions to what we do, and for whom the residency will be of significant benefit. We ask for all applications to be submitted online via our form below. If you have access needs that mean you wish to apply in an alternative format, please let us know.
  • If you’re successful with your application we will let you know on or before Friday 10th May. 
    Please don’t chase us. We’re sorry we cannot contact unsuccessful applicants one by one – we just don’t have capacity, but we do try to give feedback on request to unsuccessful candidates. 
  • If you also want to apply for our regular Volunteer Week in late August, that’s fine – but please make two separate applications – one for each. 
  • Our funding requires us to limit the participation of those in full-time education in our programme. We therefore allocate a maximum of one place per volunteer week to student participants.
  • Please contact us in confidence if you would like to apply to volunteer yet have access needs or other concerns you would like to discuss first, by emailing in the first instance karen ‘at’
  • We are looking for individual applicants to volunteering, not couples or groups
  • Please don’t apply if you are a previous recipient of a Grizedale Arts Residential Volunteer placement
  • You’re welcome to re-apply if you have applied to volunteer with us before, but were unsuccessful
  • We pick up and drop off volunteers from Ulverston train station at noon on Day 1 and in time for a noon train on your final day. We cannot offer alternative travel times, so if these do not work for your incoming or onward travel, it’s your responsibility to arrange overnight accommodation locally to ensure you can make these times
  • If you want to drive to reach us, the same meeting points and times above apply
  • We cover accommodation & full board (value = £800 p.p) and travel costs of up to £180, which are reimbursed during or immediately after your stay with us
  • If for any reason you wish to withdraw your application, please let us know promptly