On Wednesday 8 July, 15 children, all aged between 11 and 16 took part in a day of art and adventure at Avon Heath Country Park. They were given the exciting challenge of helping a professional artist create a sculpture of one of the local inhabitants of the park.
The children were all pupils from Beaucroft Foundation School for children with complex needs, and Emmanual Middle School in Verwood. They were invited along to the workshop, set up to celebrate Children’s Arts Day – a national programme encouraging children, young families and teachers to engage in visual art – to help build various parts of a sculpture of the native Minotaur Beetle, otherwise known as a dung beetle.
The pupils started the day by exploring the heathland with the country park’s rangers, before getting to grips with using traditional heathland crafts – willow weaving, using wattle and daub and making trig brushes – to create the sculpture
ICM has helped support the workshop by part-funding the attendance of Olivia Keith, a well-known environmental artist, whose projects have been commissioned by the likes of Kew Gardens and The National Trust.
Carol Dawkins, Assistant Ranger at the Park, co-ordinated the activities. She said: “This was such an exciting opportunity for the park to help make heathland fun for children. Olivia has a real understanding of the natural materials being used and where they are from.”
The workshop provided the children with an early glimpse of what to expect when the Country Park holds its annual Heathland Festival on Sunday 20 September. Families will be able to join in with workshops, instant theatre, guided walks and much more. Visitors will also be able to see firsthand the sculpture of the Minotaur beetle, which will form the focal point of the festival.