Studland’s sea life in the frame

Thursday 27th October 2011

Studland eel grass by Esther TysonStudland eel grass by Esther Tyson

Artwork by the winner of a unique bursary which funds diving lessons goes on display at the Society of Wildlife Artists’ (SWLA) annual exhibition today.

Award-winning artist Esther Tyson was the 2011 recipient of the Underwater Wildlife Art Award from Dorset Wildlife Trust in association with the SWLA.

The recipient of the 2012 bursary has also been announced as award-winning sculptor, Harriet Mead. Harriet, daughter of author and broadcaster Chris Mead, is the President of SWLA and uses the natural world as inspiration for her sculptures.

...the seagrass habitat is enchanting and drawing underwater has become as natural as drawing above.

The Underwater Wildlife Art Award aims to raise awareness of the UK’s unique marine life by turning artists into qualified divers who can experience the wildlife beneath the waves first-hand. Esther, an accomplished artist based in Derbyshire, travelled to Dorset for dive lessons and to explore the waters of Studland Bay. Home to a rich variety of wildlife, including breeding populations of both UK species of seahorse and endangered undulate rays, Studland Bay is one of 127 sites recently recommended to Government for designation as Marine Conservation Zones. Esther is keen for her artwork to help with the campaign to protect Studland.

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.”

Esther said: “Diving at Studland has been an incredible privilege, the seagrass habitat enchanting and drawing underwater has become as natural as drawing above. I have been fortunate enough to see remarkable sea life in these waters.”

Harriet said: “I am thrilled at the idea of exploring a whole new unfamiliar underwater landscape, and discovering the creatures which inhabit it.”

The Society of Wildlife Artists annual exhibition opens today at the Mall Galleries, London and runs until Sunday 6 November.

SWLA Annual Exhibition
The exhibition is taking place at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1 from Thursday 27 October to Sunday 6 November. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm, closing at 1pm on Sunday 6 November . For more information, visit

Studland Bay
For more information on the wildlife of Studland Bay and to support the campaign to protect it visit

Esther Tyson
See more of Esther’s artwork on Facebook

Harriet Mead
See examples of Harriet’s sculptures on her website: