Featuring photographs by Jan Sedlacek, Digitlight Photography
Malvern Spa Association is delighted to announce the opening of its 2021 Summer Exhibition, in Great Malvern on Monday 26th April. The gallery is along the walkway between Waitrose and Church Street. Please visit if you can – we hope it will inspire you!
25 panels taking you through time
The exhibition consists of twenty-five panels, which tell the story of Malvern’s unique and ancient spring water heritage from prehistoric times to the present day.
Many of the panels feature photographs taken by celebrated Malvern photographer Jan Sedlacek of Digitlight, whose extraordinary shots of night-time skies over the Malvern Hills have won him national acclaim. Jan and members of the MSA have enjoyed collaborating closely on the project for several months, and are building up an extensive collection of beautiful photos of Malvern’s natural and cultural water heritage for future reference (and possibly, a book).
One of the panels (no. 17) shows a poster of a Malvern Water advertising campaign from the early 2000s, which caused some controversy at the time. It took a while to track down the team responsible for the poster’s design and ask for permission to use it. When we did, we were saddened to hear that one of them had died suddenly last year (conceptualist, strategist and leader, Justin Hooper); the panel is dedicated to his memory. One interesting fact emerged whist talking to the team: contrary to popular belief, the photographs were taken in Kent, not Malvern!
Fitting in with our aims
The MSA’s aims include increasing knowledge of Malvern’s water heritage; promoting the conservation, restoration and enhancement of the springs; preserving historic water traditions; and celebrating the benefits of this precious resource. The organisation was formed in 1998. At that time there were no public water spouts in the town centre, and Malvern water could not be bought in the shops. Only 60 springs had been identified, and many were in disrepair. Since then, more have been found, and with the help of local partners and organisations, several have been lovingly restored. Malvern water can now be drunk from a spout in the town centre, at the Malvhina fountain created by artist Rose Garrard in September 1998.
Today there are at least 200 known springs, wells, spouts and fountains in and around the Malverns, with more being discovered all the time (the spring-fed ornamental pool shown in the photograph on panel no. 2 only came to light late last year, despite it being in full sight of West Malvern Road! It has been named Ash Tree Pool after the venerable ash tree growing beside it). We are currently working on the restoration of several other water features, and the creation of new ones. We work closely with the local community, many of whom are dedicated well-wardens and well-dressers.
Don’t forget Well-dressing
The exhibition opens on Monday 26th April and runs until the end of June. Maps showing the locations of most of the featured springs and wells are available from the Tourist Information Centre. It has been planned to coincide with the annual Well-dressing Festival, a much-loved event with ancient roots, which the MSA organises. With lock-down precautions in place, on Friday 30th April the well-dressers will be out in force, and by Saturday 1st May, 49 wells will have been dressed, to this year’s theme which is ‘Planets and Stars’. Although some dressings will come down on Wednesday 5th May, most will stay up until Sunday 9th. Maps of the dressed wells are also available from the TIC.
We hope the exhibition will inspire people to discover a few of the springs and wells, and that they will want to find out more about this precious natural resource – and help us protect it for future generations.