This project was awarded  Sustainable Development Fund support in 2021-22 to help deliver our Management Plan objectives B1a – to support and develop activities that increase health and wellbeing by establishing and strengthening connections to the landscape and nature and B3c – Support initiatives for children and young people to understand more about the Dorset AONB and its special qualities through learning outside the classroom, curricular and extra curricular activities.

Additionally to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic the project allowed the opportunity  for very young children to meet and play with other children, and for their parents to meet other parents with young children.

  • SDF grant awarded: £1000
  • Other sources of funding: volunteer time
  • % of total funding awarded: 75%

This project created an opportunity for very young children and their parents/ carers to explore local beaches in a fun, creative way. Through first hand art and play they were able to learn more about the natural environment and experience the well-being benefits of being out in nature with others.

Art on the beaches (c) Jo Burlington

Six free site specific art workshops were developed and facilitated by artist Jo Burlington. The worshops were aimed at 2-4 yr olds to enable them to explore and experience that which was unique to each beach, such as making paint from the cliffs, or using the steep slope of the shingle to help make a painting.

Liaison took place with the different authorities who manage each of the beaches, along with local pre-schools and parenting support teams to ensure the project would reach a wide audience.

Information and instructions for some of the activities from the workshops have been put up on the Oops Wow website to enable people to try them out independently.

Mud painting at Burton Bradstock

free workshops on 2 sessions on three different beaches – Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock, East Beach at West Bay, West Beach at Charmouth.

Each workshop was fully booked, each with a waiting list.

In all 74 individuals participated in the project;

  • 33 different families,
  • 35 children aged 2-4yrs old

Many families were able to attend 2 or more sessions, so they were able to see how to explore the differences of the beaches.

4 volunteers were involved, 3 with assisting with the sessions, 1 assisted & advised with the IT and website work.

A section of the Oops Wow website with information and instructions as to how to do some of the activities on the beach was created.

Extended benefits

Further funding from another charity has been sourced to run regular messy art sessions at Hive Beach starting in March 2022.

View Oops Wow Messy Art upcoming events 

Exploring stones on Charmouth Beach

Suggestions to others thinking of doing a similar project:

  • Start liaising with any committees as early as possible, they may only meet monthly and all decisions, or revisions may only be discussed at these meetings.
  • Volunteers – the experience you are offering is valuable and someone will appreciate and benefit from it going forwards. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for volunteer help, spend time looking for the right people, they will be out there.
  • Professional photographers are amazing and well worth the expense. Presenting your project well will make more things happen.
Art on the beaches (c) Jo Burlington
Art on the Beaches (c) Jo Burlington

““It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to focus on working in a site specific way, this has opened up a whole new avenue for me to explore. I was also so grateful that the sessions were free to the participants, this meant that it was open to anyone to come along, also many participants said that it being free felt like real treat, after the hardships of the lockdowns.””

Project Manager

Art on the beaches (c) Jo Burlington

My granddaughter and I really enjoyed the Messy Art beach sessions. I think outdoor activities are so important to young children….fresh air, freedom to make a mess, using natural resources from the beach for creativity was great and my granddaughter has really enjoyed telling people what we did and how we did it!”