‘Grounded' - Hogchester Arts

A six-week public engagement project exploring land conservation through the lens of contemporary art.

Hogchester Arts was founded in 2017 and is sited on Hogchester Farm – a 75 acre conservation site in the Dorset AONB that has charitable status for its conservation work (reseeding wildflower meadows, bird ringing, re-wilding project).

C. Chantal Howe


This project was awarded  Sustainable Development Fund support in 2019-2020 to help deliver our Management Plan policy objectives of inspiring people to be actively involved in enjoying and caring for the landscape; accessing the landscape in a sustainable way; and enjoying the recreational and well-being benefits it has to offer.

• SDF grant awarded: £1500
• Other sources of funding: Ticket sales, Hogchester Charitable Trust donation
• 29% of total funding awarded

Exhibition of artists in residence work at Hogchester

Hogchester is a special place combining the beauty of the landscape and joy of art. It is both a 75-acre wildlife conservation site within the Dorset AONB which has charitable status for its conservation work. It also offers an artist in residency programme through Hogchester Arts, enabling selected artists to visit the site and make new works in relation to the beautiful landscape around them.

‘Grounded’ aimed to combine these elements into a lively and interactive 3-week public exhibition, highlighting the importance of conservation through contemporary art. In particular by showcasing the work produced by their artists in residency programme over the previous 2 years.

Chantal and Rob Howe wanted to open the wildflower meadows and butterfly sanctuary to local communities, conservationists and artists for the first time. They were keen to share their experience of  conservational practice and art inspired by the landscape and hoped it would to provide a new experience for a wider audience.

Sculpture on the land

An exciting launch event was held to kick off the event.  This was a ticketed event and included:

• Wildflower meadow walks & talks
• Talks about Hogchester
• Film screenings
• Exhibition walk through and talks with resident artists
• Interactive workshops (ceramics, haiku and prose)
• Sculpture trail
• Live music

Food, drink and ice cream were available from local chefs – all  seasonal and sustainably produced.

In the 3 weeks which followed the exhibition, wildflower meadows and conservation site remained open to the public, with both Chantal and Rob on hand to talk to visitors about the art and conservation work taking place.

Further information about the art work exhibited can be found here

The launch event and exhibition were a great success

• 60 people attended the launch event
• Approx. 100 more attended the 3-week exhibition
• Local people attended as well as those from further afield including London, Exeter, Winchester, Cornwall
• Approx. one third of attendees were children

Celebration & Community

Chantal & Rob were able to share their conservation aims for the site, allow visitors to experience the wildflower meadows in bloom, butterflies and wildlife first hand and build links with the local community. It also helped them to gather information about the community’s interests and needs for future projects and events.

Art in the Landscape

The artworks displayed in such a stunning backdrop encouraged people to look at  the landscape in new ways and stimulated discussions around the importance of nature for people’s well-being.

The event also gave a significant voice to Hogchester Art’s Artist Residency Programme.

Art exhibition

It is hoped that based on the success of this launch event it will continue bi-annually.

Click here to learn more about Hogchester’s history and conservation work.

Visit the Hogchester Arts website to discover more about art at this special place.

Suggestions to others thinking of doing a similar project

  • Don’t try to do it all yourself, get as much help from others as possible!
Sculpture in the wildlife pond
c. Chantal Howe

‘Our public engagement day took place on July 20th 2019. It was a joyous day that included film screenings, talks, performance, exhibition opening and a celebration of sculpture within the landscape.’

Chantal Howe