Landscapes for Life Week 2020: Art in the Landscape

Although face to face activities may not be possible this year, AONBs across the country are still keen to celebrate Landscapes for Life Week, albeit in a quieter way. Today we are celebrating how the arts help us connect with our landscapes.

Barrow, And Now: Inside Out Dorset 2014, Activate Photo: Tony Gill

For over 10 years we’ve been working with arts organisation and artists, exploring and celebrating the outstanding landscapes of the Dorset AONB. Working alongside Activate, Artsreach, The Arts Development Company and many individual artists has been an inspirational way of engaging thousands of people in our work.

Have a look at just a few of the wonderful projects we have been involved in – a happy trip down memory lane if you have been involved in some of these!

Things you can do this week

Although face to face events aren’t possible this year, there’s still lots of creative ways you can enjoy the landscape.

Dorset Landscapes for Life Festival at Cerne Giant (c) Dave Penman

Poet laureate Simon Armitage kick-started Landscapes for Life Week 2019 with his new poem ‘Fugitives’, depicting landscapes as a ‘Natural Health Service’ for all to enjoy. If you’re inspired by Fugitives, take part in a FREE ecopoetry workshop with poet Meryl Pugh on Thursday 24th September to try your hand. READ MORE

Wildwriting! Dorset

Wildwriting! Dorset is a series of short, fun and accessible 10-20 minute outdoor writing activities for all ages and abilities, especially older people and anyone feeling isolated inside their homes. You can download to your device or print off WildWriting! activities as pdfs, plus watch the videos and listen to audio clips. All you need is access to a window, garden, or outdoor space, and a pen and paper. This project is commissioned by Activate and run in partnership with Stepping into Nature. READ MORE

Hell Stone (c) Paul Haynes

Explore the Ridgeway through books

If you  enjoy reading, bring the local landscape alive through a selection of hand-picked books. In 2015 Artsreach ran the Ridgeway Reading book group and the reading list & discussion notes are still live for all to enjoy now. As the autumn draws in, take to the sofa with this inspiring book list! READ MORE

Explore the Ridgeway

Artist Amanda Wallwork has created a beautiful and fascinating insight into the geology, habitats, earthworks, old ways and names of this ancient landscape. The Field Guide and series of six unique maps showcase 10 walking routes that explore the remarkable landscape. You can download the Field Guide and maps or request free copies from the Dorset AONB Team, Kate Townsend.

Ridgeway Singers & band (c) Roland Tarr, Artsreach

Songs and sounds of the Ridgeway

Artreach have other archives for you to delve into to bring the sounds of the landscape into your own home. Their successful West Gallery Music project and the Ridgeway Singers are a joyful taste of our ancient landscape and traditions. READ / HEAR MORE!

Bringing Myths & Legends to Life

Storyteller Martin Maudsley worked with local school children and illustrators to bring the myths and legends of the ancient South Dorset Ridgeway landscape to life. Compiled into a bespoke Teacher Pack, the myths & legends have become the inspiration for creative writing as well as other curriculum-based subjects.

Dorset Youth Dance Taster Session

After running a term of lessons online, Dorset Youth Dance will return to ‘in person’ classes this month. With extra safety measures in place, we can’t wait to welcome back our dancers to hone their technique and develop choreography. If you’re looking to join a youth dance company in Dorset why not book a place at the Dorset Youth Dance taster session? Sunday 27th September:

  • Ages 7-11, 10-11am
  • Ages 12-25, 11.15am-12.45pm.

To find out more and book your place, visit the Activate website

Soundscape app to explore the 'land of bone and stone'

The landscape is a tapestry of stories and sounds and Satsymph captured these in a series of apps for our South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership.

New compositions were fused together with myths and legends of the area to produce these unique new soundscapes to explore ancient sites including Maiden Castle, the Grey Mare & her Colts and stone circles.


Scratchy Bottom (c) Laura Miller

Photo competition for young people

If you are 18 and under, please do enter our photo competition to show us what you love about the Dorset landscape!

You don’t need fancy camera equipment to take good photos – your mobile phone is a great way to capture the moment and often to stunning effect. To support a budding young photographer, we have a special prize for the winner of the Youth Category – a Kodak PixPro AZ901 camera – and Runner Up Prizes of vouchers for photographic equipment.

We are delighted that our Free Photography Exhibition at Durlston Castle has been extended until the end of September. You can see the top 60 images from our Landscapes for Life Photo Competition 2020.

Helen Stiles, Editor of the Dorset Magazine and on the judging panel enthused “The standard of photography has been very high, with a wide range of stunning images taken in all weathers and all seasons – Dorset really does look as beautiful in winter as in summer. We are very pleased to feature the top 12 images in our Dorset Coast & Countryside Calendar 2021”

The Photo Competition is part of the Dorset AONB 60th anniversary celebrations, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.