DORSET Wildlife Trust's Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre has reopened in Purbeck.

It reopened on Wednesday (August 12) after closing to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors must wear masks inside the centre, which is celebrating its reopening with a new art exhibition revealing the county's underwater landscape – with original artwork created by Dorset artist, Antonia Phillips.

Antonia said: "I was so pleased to be part of this amazing venture. With a love of geology and having dived and sketched underwater, this was a most enjoyable challenge for me as an artist.

"The artwork needed to portray Dorset’s vibrant underwater landscape and different sediment types in an approachable way. No easy task.

"The surveys and myriad detailed photos helped me ‘re-imagine’ being in the landscape.”

The artwork provides a different perspective of the seas just off the Dorset coastline and was commissioned for a new guide produced by Dorset Wildlife Trust.

The guide, Dorset’s Wild Seas, aims to introduce people to the variety of marine wildlife and habitats in the county and the network of protected areas recently set up to safeguard it for the future.

Alongside the original art works will be some of the artists’ sketches.

The process undertaken to produce the finished pieces was not straight forward and involved experimenting with textures and colours to represent different seabed habitats, from huge underwater sandbanks to shallow seaweed-covered ledges.

The exhibition also includes a short film showcasing Dorset’s marine protected areas.

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Wild Seas Centre officer, Julie Hatcher, said, “It was exciting to work with Antonia and to develop these underwater scenes.

"While photos can show a diver’s-eye view, the water is rarely clear enough to see more than a few metres.

"By adding artistic elements, we have been able to peel away the sea to reveal the hidden world beneath the waves.

"People will be amazed at what’s right on our doorstep.”

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