Organised by six final year Creative Events Management students at Arts University Bournemouth, A Dorset Wanderland started as an outdoor arts trail, exhibiting site-specific artworks made in response to Durlston Country Park. The project has been running in cooperation with Alistair Tuckey, Ranger and Project Manager for the Durlston Pleasure Grounds, whose passion and enthusiasm for Durlston inspired the participating artists greatly in the creation of their artworks.
As one of Dorset’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the importance of respecting and appreciating the landscape of Durlston played a vital role in the development of the project. The project was set up to encourage students in Dorset to engage with the unique natural environments on their doorstep, whilst also considering Durlston's frequent visitors through the project, by inspiring them to appreciate the area from a new perspective.
To commence artist engagement, a group of emerging artists from Dorset, including students/alumni from AUB, Weymouth College and further afield, were taken to Durlston for a workshop and development day. Workshops were led by Dorset-based artist, Cleo Evans, who specialises in exploration of natural landscapes. The participating artists were able to walk the chosen route and learn about the social, environmental and geological history of the site from Ali. From here, the group began developing ideas and discussing potential for collaborative relationships to form. The artists began the process of developing their site-specific work in a broad range of formats, including film, sculpture, performance, sound and visual art. Solidified ideas were then formed and pitched to the organisational team and Cleo in late February.
To acquire the relevant funds to support the production and running of this project, the organisational team undertook several fundraising efforts including club nights and an online auction to reach their financial target. This meant that transportation and production costs could be covered to help support participating artists.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that just 1 month before the event, the initial plans for A Dorset Wanderland were canceled. Due to the timing of this decision, some artists who had been planning to make their work onsite at Durlston were no longer able to do so, but a vast majority of the artists expressed interest in continuing to participate in the project, even if this meant creating work in a slightly different format. Given that so much hard work, time and fun had been had with this project so far – it was crucial that there was opportunity to present and share this with you all in some way. As a creative and practical response, the typical notions of an event have been challenged and it is with much excitement that this project can still be shared, and to more people than ever imagined!
Although now a virtual experience, this immersive and thought-provoking art trail is still focused around encouraging audiences, old and new, to experience and engage with Durlston Country Park and its’ beautiful landscape through a sensory and reflective journey. With the added opportunity to create and engage with your own surroundings: Heavily Tread is designed to inspire creation and appreciation of your own wandering routes from a new perspective.
Message from the Team:
We would like to thank all of the artists involved, Ali, Cleo and our course tutors for all of your support and enthusiasm throughout this project – your individual outlooks and contributions have helped build and shape our idea into this unique project! We couldn’t have done without any of you.
Hope you are all inspired by this enlightening project and that these unusual and uncertain times can be used to appreciate and consider the ways in which we connect with our natural surroundings.
The Dorset Wanderland Team: