Sea through eyes of winning artist

Sunday 14th August 2011

Esther Tyson painting underwaterEsther Tyson painting underwater

The eyes of an award-winning artist are on Dorset’s sea life this month, as fine artist Esther Tyson goes underwater to paint the wildlife that most of us never see.

Esther, 37, from Derbyshire, has been learning to dive after receiving the Undersea Wildlife Art Award from Dorset Wildlife Trust in association with The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA). The award, established in 2007, provides a bursary for an established artist to learn to dive and then to work underwater off the Dorset coast, recording the wildlife of the sea in art.

Esther, who studied at the University of Wales and the Royal College of Art, has been training at Swanage Pier and is now diving in the rich waters of Studland Bay, home to spiny and short-snouted seahorses and endangered undulate rays. An accomplished artist who achieves remarkable images with an economy of masterful brushstrokes, her work was selected for the cover of the SWLA’s catalogue and poster for its annual exhibition and the new paintings will be unveiled later this year in Dorset and London.

Esther said: “I’ve inhaled more water than I’d have thought possible! There have been moments I’ve fought back tears and mental exhaustion, to moments of elation and everything in-between! On my first dive, with poor visibility I felt disorientated and claustrophobic but subsequent dives have revealed a wealth of weird and wonderful creatures in these waters and, with mask-clearing well and truly under my belt, I am finally ready to undertake the most exciting part of this project - painting underwater!”

Dorset Wildlife Trust is keen to raise awareness of the rich wildlife of Studland’s seagrass meadows and to see the site protected as a marine reserve. Peter Tinsley, Living Seas Manager at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Undersea wildlife, even just a few metres from the shore, is inaccessible to most people and, because of that, overlooked and undervalued. We can’t get everyone to go underwater to see for themselves but we’re really lucky in being able to literally immerse an artist in the marine environment. I’m really looking forward to seeing Esther’s interpretation - I’m sure it will open a few eyes.”

The Society of Wildlife Artists is accepting applications from artists for the 2012 Underwater Award until 14 October 2011. To find out how to apply visit http://www.swla.co.uk/Bursary/Bursaries.htm.

 

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