Bournville Rocks is a Facebook group dedicated to the current trend of painting rocks and hiding them for others to find and enjoy. It is worth remembering that a big part of this activity was had it’s origin with one little girl, Isla, who sadly passed away this July. After being diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, Isla began to decorate stones and hide them, a campaign that soon spread across the world. When the rocks were found people were encourage to post photos online using the #islastones hashtag, and then re-hide them. Rocks communities are activities that everyone can enjoy regardless of age and ability. I was honoured to speak to founder Lynn Mason about her hard work in organising Bournville Rocks.
Please can you give me a potted history of how Bournville Rocks started?
Bournville Rocks started quite by accident, my nine-year old granddaughter came to stay one weekend and she is a member of Sutton Coldfield Smilestones. She brought me a rock she had painted to hide in Bournville Park, and next day it had gone! So I started a Facebook page… three months later we have 1100 members and counting!
Different ‘Rocks’ communities operate under different rules, in some cases rocks must be re-hidden locally, in others some are welcome to travel as far as possible! What rules do the ‘Bournville Rocks’ community have?
As the only admin, I have few rules. As far as hiding rocks goes they can be hidden anywhere in the world and indeed, they have been. I ask that they are hidden responsibly, and for hiders to use their basic common sense. We have to think about children’s safety of course, so rocks must not be placed not too near or in water, or anywhere that would involve climbing. Also we ask that rocks shouldn’t be hidden in long grass or hedges as there is a danger from lawnmowers.
We do try to encourage everyone to re-hide their found rocks and post their findings with a picture on the Facebook group. This does not always happen, which I think personally is fine…if people want to keep rocks they find for whatever reason, that rock has done its job and made someone smile. Not all members feel this way, but in my opinion once you have hidden your rocks they no longer belong to you! But I do advocate that the keeper paints two replacement rocks allowing the group to grow.
You’re a keen rock painter yourself. What materials do you like to use, and can we see some of the examples of your work?
My preferred medium is acrylic, both paint and pens (Posca) they are water based, vibrant, quick drying and durable. almost any paint can be used as long as it is sealed with a clear varnish. We try to avoid embellishments such as sequins and google eyes as they can pose a danger to wildlife and the environment.
‘Bournville Rocks’ has also attempted larger community projects such as August’s ‘The Bug Line’, and now ‘Traffic Jam’ which is being laid out this month. Can you tell us more about these projects?
As a group we decided to keep the group interesting and engaged, to have a monthly theme to run alongside our day-to-day painting and hiding. Each month I ask for suggestions and we go with the most popular. The last two weeks in the month we build up a line of these themed stones along the wall on Bournville Green, anyone can add to this line and it’s heart-warming to watch it grow. The pleasure I see on the children’s (and adults) faces when they see theirs and others stones on open display is second to none. We are also doing a special display of stones for Armistice day starting on 1st November running through to the 11th.
Is ‘Bournville Rocks’ working with any partners throughout their projects?
The local businesses on the green keep a keen eye on the rock lines and both the Bournville Community Hub and Louise of Bournville keep unpainted stones for people to collect at will (these are supplied by myself and a few kind members.) The Bournville Village Trust are currently painting stones for our group to hide this month. The Rainbows, Brownies and Guides have all kindly contributed to our Traffic Jam as the original line was sadly taken. And the Bournville Garden Centre have donated stones for our group to use when we did a paint in the park advent in the summer.
Finally, if someone is interested in starting a rock painting group in their local community, what advice would you give to them?
The most important thing is to keep it fun and interesting, not too many do’s and don’ts! Make sure you have the time to run it efficiently, i.e. answering questions, accepting members and do try to engage with members. Also make it clear what you think is acceptable within the group… remember children are heavily involved in this pastime.
I just wanted to add a few words… I started Bournville Rocks but its success is totally down to the wonderful people who tirelessly paint and hide rocks in the hope of them being re-hidden, also for their support and determination to continue relentlessly when all their hard work went AWOL! We have a number of loyal members who paint hundreds of rocks…. they know who they are, and I love and thank them.