Art group gives ‘God of the Three Brooks’ a face

Landscape (watercolour) by Sue Kelly. Trolletheus, God of Three Brooks (acrylic), by Susan Hartry.

A chance encounter between Susan Hartry of the Stokes Art Group (SAG) and Sara Messenger of the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group (TBNCG) last spring sparked an idea for an art project. Sara explained that just as the River Severn has Sabrina Goddess of the River, the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve has a God called Trolletheus – named after two rusted and battered supermarket trolleys she and the TBNCG Team had dredged from the lake some time earlier. Susan picked up on this and suggested giving Trolletheus a face as a SAG project competition later in the year. Sara liked the idea and even agreed to judge it with adoption papers at the ready!

Both passionate about their respective groups, they soon realised they greatly complimented each other. After all, conservationists maintain our landscape and for centuries artists have enjoyed painting it!

The competition brief was split into two categories – one to create an image for Trolletheus and the second to create a landscape from any scene or feature from the reserve. The resulting unsigned collection was displayed at the Stokes Art Group end of year awards event, where Sara and fellow conservationist Ceri selected their favourite artwork from each category. Sara was thrilled that finally Trolletheus had a ‘face’ – though the look of surprise on her own face when she announced the artist was Susan Hartry was also worthy of a prize! Inspired by features of the reserve itself Susan’s Trolletheus, armoured with two supermarket trolleys, is based on the Turkey Oaks of Sherbourne’s Brake.

The winning landscape by Stokes Artist Sue Kelly, taken from her own photograph, represents a typical Three Brooks woodland scene familiar to those who go off the beaten track and enjoy the diverse variety of trees, plants, wildflowers and undergrowth found right on our doorstep.

The full collection can be viewed on the 2018 Project page of the SAG website.

Susan is always keen to promote the Stokes Art Group – but also art itself. She said:

“Too many people genuinely believe they can’t do art so it is more a confidence issue rather than a lack of ability that stops them even trying. Art as a pastime suits all abilities, budgets, and in degrees the constraints of spare time. It has many facets and in any form is all absorbing so a great way to relax and de-stress and can easily fit in to our daily lives at home, on holiday, lunch time at work, in the park, on a walk, even on the Bus. Tutorial resources are also plentiful, from attending tutored classes to painting alongside like-minded people such as the SAG.”

The SAG is a small self-funded art group for local artists and welcomes all abilities. For more information or to contact the SAG to book a free taster session, visit their website at

Regular Journal contributor Sara of TBNCG said:

“This ancient site, now called the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, is right at the heart of the Stokes and offers residents beautiful green space for gentle walking, rambling, running, and so much more. For conservation group members, it gives the added benefit of working outdoors which is always good for the body and soul as a great way to exercise without thinking about it, as well as putting aside the stresses and strains of everyday life; meeting new people and making new friends. All at the same time as contributing something beneficial to the local area and community. In brief, making a difference and having the feel good factor.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 24 & 25). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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