Otter spotters have rambled across the wilds of Dartmoor National Park this summer in search of the vibrant otter and cub sculptures that form the Moor Otters Arts Trail. A total of 81 resin sculptures can be found, all designed and decorated by artists, local talent and organisations. One of those sculptures includes Splotter Otter, a creation from the students at Dame Hannah Rogers School.
Based in Ivybridge, the school provided an educational and respite centre for people with disabilities. The school and children’s services closed in 2020, but the Dame Hannah Rogers Trust continues to support over 30 young adults at its site in Ivybridge. Alison Gill was a teacher at the school and worked with the students to create their colourful Otter and Cub design.
“We decided to participate in the Moor Otters Arts Trail as we thought it would be fun to get involved in a project that showcased our local area. We were honoured to be selected alongside established, professional artists.”
The pupils who worked on the design of Splotter Otter have a range of complex disabilities, medical challenges and sensory needs. Participating in the Moor Otters Arts initiative helped them express their creativity in a fun and stimulating way. When deciding on a design for the sculpture, it was important to Alison that the process met each pupil’s individual needs.
“We wanted to create a design that our pupils could contribute to as independently as possible” said Alison. “The children and young students applied the paint to Splotter Otter using their hands, sponges and brushes of different shapes and sizes. We chose acrylic paint in three vibrant colours to provide contrast and texture against the paler background to assist those with visual impairment. Support, as needed, was provided by members of staff who also contributed to the design, so it was very much a team effort.”
The finished result is an otter and cub sculpture proudly displaying a beautiful pattern in aquamarine blue, deep violet and vibrant magenta. Dartmoor visitors can now see Splotter Otter in the picturesque village of Cornwood, Dame Hannah Rogers’ home village. Visitors can view the sculpture inside the village store where they can buy ice creams and other treats with the Cornwood Inn just across the road.
Launched on 28th May 2021, the Moor Otters Arts Trail aims to raise £60,000 for Dartmoor conservation projects that keep the landscape special now and in the future. It also gives visitors the opportunity to discover the National Park’s habitats, wildlife and cultural heritage whilst respecting the area. Ramblers are encouraged to find as many sculptures as they can before they are rounded-up in the autumn.
“We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the world and the Moor Otters Arts Trail will give locals and visitors the chance to explore the region” said Alison. “Exercise in a natural environment benefits physical and mental health. It also helps to develop an appreciation and understanding of wildlife whatever your age.”
Alison loves living in Devon, particularly making the most of the vast array of countryside walks that are on offer.
“A climb up the Western Beacon on the southern tip of Dartmoor is well worth the effort. From there, you can see the glittering coastline and admire the beautiful South Hams countryside. You can also spot the city of Plymouth and of course, enjoy miles of moorland. A walk along the Puffing Billy track takes you further on to the moor. Sitting on a rock, watching the Dartmoor ponies and listening to the birds is a great way to relax!”
The Moor Otters Arts Trail continues to welcome otter spotters until 19th September 2021. Visit www.dartmoor.gov.uk/moorotters for more information and to download the sculpture map. Visit Dartmoor has details on accommodation, food, attractions and other things to do during your visit: www.visitdartmoor.co.uk.
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