Local Artist To Lead Free Art Workshops Exploring Penhale Dunes and Saint Piran

In February, environmental artist Peter Ward will lead a series of public art workshops, in conjunction with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, to explore the unique ecology of Penhale Dunes and their links to the legend of St Piran.

Through a series of four workshops, community groups will consider the geology, ecology and history of Penhale Dunes through time, via the story of Saint Piran. Groups will participate through observational drawing, sensitive foraging and imaginative experience of this ‘dynamic dunescape’, and then be invited to express what they have learnt through simple paintings and drawings, using paint made from Cornish earth pigments. This will take place at Livingstone St Ives Gallery in Perranporth, where the works will then be exhibited, to coincide with St Piran’s Day on 5th March 2022.

Artist Peter Ward said;

“Thanks to its diverse geology and rich cultural heritage, Cornwall offers a fantastic range of earth colours and many myths and legends engendered within the landscape. So, while earth pigments and local stories are unique to an area, they also offer a unifying anthropological reflection of the art of earth cultures around the world. In this age of ecological uncertainty, the importance of understanding and better connection to the places we live and the expression of our indigenous identity could not be more relevant. Our project with Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Dynamic Dunescapes project offers a great opportunity to do just this.”

Peter Ward 2

Peter Ward

Saint Piran and his Disciples (Cornish earth pigments and linseed oil on board) © p ward 2021

The coastal dunes of England and Wales are internationally important habitats for wildlife, listed as one of the most threatened environments in Europe for biodiversity loss. Over time, many dunes have become covered by thick vegetation which has over-stabilised the sand, and invasive species which are out-competing rarer ones. Although moving sand was once seen as a threat and to be controlled at all costs, we now know that a healthy dune system needs areas of freely-moving sand as part of a mosaic of habitat types, to support a diverse mix of wildlife.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s People Engagement Officer Andy Nelson said;

“As part of the Dynamic Dunescapes project, we are giving grants to artists who have ideas for community projects that will increase public interest in one of the most threatened habitats in Europe: sand dunes. We hope that through these small-scale but meaningful projects, people will gain an appreciation of these wonderful habitats and, in turn, help to keep them special in the long-term.”

Cornish Landscape (raw and ground Cornish earth pigments) © p ward 2019

Cornish Landscape (raw and ground Cornish earth pigments) © P Ward 2019

The artworks created by the groups will be on display at Livingstone St. Ives gallery in Perranporth. Gallery director Alicia Livingstone said “The Cornish landscape has been an inspiration to artists for centuries and we’re delighted to help preserve this unique part of it. We can’t wait to display these artworks drawing on the history and the ecology of the dunes, which have always been a space of spiritual reflection as well as a place to engage with nature. We’re honoured to support this project’s aims of community engagement and the idea that art is for everyone to create, enjoy and share with others.”

The workshops will be held during February with Perranporth Primary School and a local art group, as well as two further workshops which will be free to the public and bookable through Eventbrite:

St Piran’s Oratory can be seen at Penhale Dunes, where it was previously completed buried by sandk

St Piran’s Oratory can be seen at Penhale Dunes, where it was previously completed buried by sand