The eyes of an award-winning artist are on Dorset’s sea life this month, as fine artist Esther Tyson goes underwater to paint the wildlife that most of us never see. Esther, 37, from Derbyshire, has been learning to dive after receiving the Undersea Wildlife Art Award from Dorset Wildlife Trust in association with The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA). The award, established in 2007, provides a bursary for an established artist to learn to dive and then to work underwater off the Dorset coast, recording the wildlife of the sea in art.
Esther, who studied at the University of Wales and the Royal College of Art, has been training at Swanage Pier and is now diving in the rich waters of Studland Bay, home to spiny and short-snouted seahorses and endangered undulate rays. An accomplished artist who achieves remarkable images with an economy of masterful brushstrokes, her work was selected for the cover of the SWLA’s catalogue and poster for its annual exhibition and the new paintings will be unveiled later this year in Dorset and London.
Esther said: “I’ve inhaled more water than I’d have thought possible! There have been moments I’ve fought back tears and mental exhaustion, to moments of elation and everything in-between! On my first dive, with poor visibility I felt disorientated and claustrophobic but subsequent dives have revealed a wealth of weird and wonderful creatures in these waters and, with mask-clearing well and truly under my belt, I am finally ready to undertake the most exciting part of this project - painting underwater!”
Dorset Wildlife Trust is keen to raise awareness of the rich wildlife of Studland’s seagrass meadows and to see the site protected as a marine reserve. Peter Tinsley, Living Seas Manager at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Undersea wildlife, even just a few metres from the shore, is inaccessible to most people and, because of that, overlooked and undervalued. We can’t get everyone to go underwater to see for themselves but we’re really lucky in being able to literally immerse an artist in the marine environment. I’m really looking forward to seeing Esther’s interpretation - I’m sure it will open a few eyes.”
DWT has recently appointed two beach wardens to talk to visitors and boat owners about Studland’s wildlife and to encourage them to avoid anchoring on the fragile seagrass or on the voluntary no-anchor zone. The Trust is also looking at ways to make existing moorings more environmentally friendly.
For more information about Studland’s wildlife, visit www.ssssg.org.uk.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Peter Tinsley at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Availablity: Esther is diving at Studland on Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th August, conditions permitting, and then returning for 2 more weeks from 11th September. Esther can be contacted for interview or filming opportunities on 07747 131068.
For more information and to see the first underwater sketches, visit facebook.com/pages/Esther-Tyson-RCA
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.