OCTOPUS tentacles are appearing across the Cornish landscape as part of an innovative creative project led by the National Trust with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Created by former Falmouth University student Katie Cadwallader and documented by Paul Blakemore, the project explores the fascinating story of Ferguson’s Gang and their connection to this dramatic coastline.

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of some women gaining the right to vote, they celebrate the legacy that the women of Ferguson’s Gang left to the country.

Formed in 1927 in London, the gang was an anonymous and somewhat enigmatic group of women that raised funds for the National Trust during the period from 1930 until 1947.

Tentacles in their honour can be found at many National Trust places in West Cornwall, including Mayon and Trevescan cliffs, near Land’s End and Frenchman’s Creek (Kestle Barton) on the River Helford.

A tentacle flag will also be flying at Mayon Lookout at Sennen Cove.

Laura Martin, visitor experience manager for the National Trust said: "Many people don’t know about Ferguson’s Gang but without them, these amazing places in Cornwall that we all enjoy today may not have been preserved. We’re hoping that by telling the Gang’s story, more people will discover their fascinating link to this landscape.

"We’re hoping that people will come and get their own limited edition tentacle print and take a picture of it in their favourite places across Cornwall using #FergusonsGang. This way the octopus will be seen spreading across Cornwall and people will be intrigued to discover more about the Gang."

The Gang was formed in 1927 by a group of five young women wishing to protect the nation’s rural land and important buildings from the ‘octopus’ of urban development.

Whilst active, all the identities of this group of well-educated, radical women remained a secret during their lifetime. They hid behind colourful pseudonyms such as Bill Stickers, The Bludy Beershop, Red Biddy, ‘Erb the Smasher, Kate O’Brien and Sister Agatha.

They protected their anonymity by wearing masks and delivered their ‘swag’ in creative ways - inside a fake pineapple, cigar or accompanied by a bottle of homemade sloe gin.

The stunts were avidly reported in the press, capturing the public’s imagination but also helping to promote their cause and help raise awareness, and money, for the National Trust. The ‘swag’ they left helped to buy small parts of rural England that were in danger of being ignored or destroyed.

Designer Katie Cadwallader said: "When I was approached with the project, I was really intrigued by this unknown story of these remarkable women. I wanted to capture their spirit and highlight the enduring relevance of their conservation cause in the 21st Century.

"Like the Gang, I was inspired by Clough Williams-Ellis’s polemic England and the Octopus - which raises concern for the countryside in the midst of urbanization."

As part of the project, the National Trust is also partnering with Kestle Barton: Rural Centre for Contemporary Arts, Frenchman’s Creek and artist collective Fourthland.

Laura added: "We’re delighted to connect the work of international recognised creative practitioners with Helston’s young students furthering the creative legacy of Ferguson’s Gang." (www.fourthland.co.uk)

Discovered a tentacle? Why not share your picture on Instagram using #FergusonsGang?