Bridport-based arts and heritage specialist Crystal Johnson explains why she’d like you to share any knowledge you might have about Dorset’s historic connections with artists.
FOR CENTURIES Dorset’s landscapes have inspired authors, poets, scientists and artists.
More than 40% of the county is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), including virtually the whole of West Dorset (click on this link for a map of the Dorset AONB).
One of the AONB’s special qualities is its “rich legacy of cultural associations”.
I am now looking for information on artists who worked in Dorset in the past and depicted land, sea or townscapes.
I am interested in all levels of detail: names, views, people’s lives… There is no pre-determined time period. I am interested in anything that might tell us about the past or form a record of our current environment for the future.
Working in partnership with Dorset’s AONB team, I am hoping to put together a comprehensive art-historical record to see where artistic interpretations can be used to pin-point and demonstrate landscape changes over time.
We want to present the cultural legacy left by visual artists who lived and visited Dorset’s AONB in a way that will inspire new ways of appreciating, understanding and managing the area now and in the future.
Plans for Dorset AONB art walks
Although it is only at a very early stage, I hope my researches might inform a range of projects.
One of these projects could be the development of self-guided walks inspired by artists’ depictions of the landscape.
We could perhaps put together a map pinpointing viewpoints, images of artists’ work from those same viewpoints, biographical information about artists and their relationship to a particular place.
One aim would be to explore how and why Dorset’s landscapes have changed.
We would also want to give walkers relevant local historical, geographical and natural information as they progress through the countryside.
Information on local facilities such as local transport links, places to eat and other amenities would also be included to ensure that walks are well planned and easy to undertake.
I hope that research will identify views and artworks, show how suitable (or unsuitable) different locations might be, and reveal what potential there really is for informative and enjoyable walks.
It may also be possible to develop linked activities such as landscape exhibitions, work with local schools and artist-led community projects.
The range and viability of activities will be explored through the research phase, together with an exploration of potential funding sources.
So, if you can help, please do. You can contact me by email at