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Arts University Plymouth students work with Green Minds to share the benefits of helping nature

BA (Hons) Illustration students from Arts University Plymouth have collaborated with one of the South West’s most loved National Trust properties, Saltram House. The students have created a range of displays to educate visitors about the benefits of helping nature as part of the Green Minds project, as Saltram House commits to creating green corridors for nature and recreation, to promote biodiversity and regeneration of the natural landscape.

Creating green corridors for nature involves restoring ecosystems to the point where nature is allowed to regenerate and take care of itself, encouraging a balance of land use between people and wildlife. When an area that had been actively managed by people in the past is given a new focus for nature, it can appear messy and uncared for, so the community team at Saltram worked with local illustration students through Green Minds to find ways to visually educate visitors about the benefits and intent behind the plans. Some of the resulting illustrations have been used on permanent display boards installed in the grounds of Saltram House, with more hoped to be used by the National Trust online next year.

Working with National Trust Community and Volunteer Engagement Manager, Annie Winsland, students, 60 students from BA (Hons) Illustration at the arts university created and pitched design proposals in groups to the National Trust to bid for the project work. 

Their brief was to create artwork that helps communicate information about the history of Saltram House, why particular areas of land were chosen for this, the relationship between the land, plants and wildlife in the areas, and the importance and diversity of insects, birds and bats in the area.

From the design proposals, two successful teams were selected, with Abi Brown, Aidan Mills, Jacob Judd and Lucy Ward focussing on creating digital assets for use online and Lucy Hartman, Hannah Harvey, Claudia Minelli, Archie McKenzie, Susan Marsden, Jasmine Stewart and Wyatt Harris focussed on creating the artwork for the rewilding interpretation boards being installed on site.

21-year-old Lucy Hartman, from Exmouth, took a lead role in coordinating the students who were creating illustrations for the physical display boards. With a keen interest in ornithology, Lucy had wanted to create illustrations for the National Trust since she was 11-years-old, and jumped at the opportunity to illustrate birds for such a good cause.

Lucy said: “My family taught me to birdwatch at a young age and as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by nature and loved drawing birds and wildlife. Opportunities to work with the National Trust don’t come around very often so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with them. It was an incredibly rewarding experience. When I joined Arts University Plymouth, I knew that I wanted to hone my skills illustrating the natural world. I was recently diagnosed with dyslexia and this has made me even more motivated to work towards illustrating non-fiction that can help people to learn about wildlife and nature in an accessible way. Ultimately, I hope that I’ll be able to focus on illustrating birds and raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the red list of endangered birds in the UK and particularly the south west of England.”

22-year-old Abi Brown, from Gloucestershire, led the group of students creating artwork for use digitally. Abi said: “Illustrating for the National Trust website was an amazing opportunity. Our group really appreciated the experience of working for such a prestigious client and it taught us so much about the business side of illustrating. Drawing animals and nature is what first got me interested in studying illustration, so to gain experience in how a passion of mine could turn into a viable career was really uplifting. In the future I would love to do more work for the National Trust and, one day, work as a picture book illustrator.”

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