Drawing Inspiration

"Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye...it also includes the inner pictures of the soul."

Over the centuries Dorset’s unique landscape has inspired a wide range of visionaries. From authors to poets, painters and scientists, the South West is rich in cultural heritage. Rather than just describing the physical landscape through the decades, artists have captured the ground-breaking social and political changes that have brought us to the lively Dorset we know today.

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Man of War Rocks, Coast of Dorset (1822) by John Brett

The Drawing Inspiration Project is a celebration of the beautiful sights our county has to offer through the work of some of the artists it influenced. Through a series of walks, talks and events, we have explored, and are continuing to explore, the splendour of Dorset past and present and what makes the area such a national treasure.

Exhibitions at Durlston County Park and many Dorset based museums and art galleries portrayed the vast amount of stunning art works inspired by the county, including works by JMW Turner, Francis Newbury and Charles Rennie Macintosh, while walking trails allowed for participants to embrace the scenery depicted firsthand. Even local schools got involved, as did local artists, creating their own landscape-inspired art to encourage people to look at Dorset's natural scenary from a new perspective.

To round up the first phase of The Drawing Inspiration Project, the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has decided to extend the scheme with an exhibition at the Dorset County Hospital. Part of the Arts in Hospital initiative, these stunning reproductions of classic landscape paintings of Dorset are enough to brighten anybody’s day. Although summer is over the walking trails can be enjoyed year-round, and we are also introducing new activities throughout 2015, including a fixed-point photography project in the autumn.

Arts in Hospital Initiative

Since The Drawing Inspiration Project proved to be popular, the Dorset AONB has decided to prolong the project. From January 19th – April 26th 2015 prints from previous Drawing Inspiration Project events will be transformed into a new exhibition at the Dorset County Hospital, as part of the Arts in Hospital initiative. A small charitable organisation, Arts in Hospital aims to lift the spirits of patients and their families through creativity.

Walk in the footsteps of artists

For those who wished to experience the magic of Dorset’s natural beauty for themselves, several walking trails were constructed as a guide. With the chance to explore the landscape that inspired famous painters such as William Daniell, Stanley Royle and JMW Turner, these scenic routes are a refreshing way to pass the time whatever the weather. 


Working with artist Richard Jeffery, local secondary schools Thomas Hardye, Colfox and Beaminister, Woodroffe, and The Swanage School took inspiration from historic photographs of local spots around Dorset, recreating them for the 21st century. ‘Re-photography’ is an intriguing mix of old and new, representing the beauty of Dorset past and present, and will be featured alongside the new Drawing Inspiration Project exhibition at the Dorset County Hospital between January 19th and April 26th 2015.

3-D Landscapes

Local primarys Damer’s First School, St George’s CE VA, Charmouth Primary School, Saint Michael’s CE VA and the Compass Centre got creative with contemporary artist Darrell Wakelam, who has 25 years experience working with educational environments. The students created 3-D models of their neighbourhoods and district heritage, forming detailed maps for school and public-based activity walks.

Interrogating Landscapes

A number of contemporary artists took part in the The Drawing Inspiration Project as a part of the Interrogating Landscapes scheme, where they created 21st century landscape-inspired art works. These will be displayed as part of the exhibition at the Dorset County Hospital. For further information, visit the Dorset Visual Arts website: http://www.dorsetvisualarts.org/projects/interrogating-landscapes

Fixed Point Photography

Whether you missed our earlier events, or just want to get further involved, in Autumn 2015 the Dorset AONB is running a fixed point photography programme. Using historic paintings as a starting point, in a series of photographic workshops participants will re-record the landscape using Gigapan technology, forming an intriguing comparison between past and present, as well as handmade art work and photography.

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Drawing Inspiration is led by the Dorset AONB Partnership with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area, The Fine Family Foundation and Dorset County Council.