Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Art of Saving Species – Guest Curator – Joel Ashton

Joel Ashton

JOEL ASHTON

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I am fortunate to have, through my business, designed, created and implemented wildlife havens in gardens, nature reserves and green spaces for around 15 years.  This of course brings me closer to nature on a regular basis and allows me to see the impact that gardening with nature in mind, not against it, can make a whole world of difference to those creatures that are so dependent on what we do – or don’t do.

Lesser Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera bifolia) photographed against a white background. Dartmoor Natioanl Park, Devon. June.

 

Lesser Butterfly Orchid - Alex Hyde

I find the simplicity of this piece gives this artwork more impact and allows you to focus on the structure and delicacy of these vulnerable and near-threatened species.  It is strongly scented at night and pollinated by hawkmoths.

To Fly Adventurous

 

 

Black-tailed Godwits Cut-outs

An important message in this artwork, direct and honest.  We do indeed need to provide more habitat and spaces for many species.

Shrill Carder Bee Nest

Shrill Carder Bee Nest

All of these handmade bee nests caught my eye, intricate, simple and important.  I am of course very keen to see anything that provides habitats for this unfortunately very rare species, but so pleased to see BfTB are working on helping in an area close to where I live.

Artwork

 

Cabinet of Curiosity Artwork

Absolutely thrilled to see so many recognisable species in this artwork, by a primary school pupil.  Red Squirrel, Large Blue Butterfly, Amphibians and insects to name a few.  Really striking and shows awareness at such a young age.

Cabinet of Curiosity Bird

Cabinet of Curiosity Woodlark

I actually covet this piece of artwork!  The sound of the Woodlark has always reminded me of a spinning coin on a table.  Love the intricacy and recycled materials used in this piece.

Cabinet of Curiosity Artwork

Cabinet of Curiosity Nightjar

Although not indicated in the description, I immediately recognise this as the Nightjar.  As shown in this fabulous drawing these birds sit on horizontal branches making their famous churring call and can be heard at dusk.

Cabinet of Curiosity Bugs
Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) Male, detail of skin. Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Merseyside, UK. April. Photographed under licence. Photographer: Alex Hyde

 

Cabinet of Curiosity Moth

Absolutely love the media used here and the creativity in the materials used.  These put me in mind of the Peppered Moth.

 

Sand Lizard - Alex Hyde

An absolutely wonderful macro-level detailed photo showing the beauty of this rare lizard male. Once again, destruction of their habitat has made them one of the UK’s rarest reptiles.

Walking Art Drawing
Fans Of The Forest Artwork

 

Walking Art Drawing

Related to my choice of the Sand Lizard, this drawing shows the beneficial habitat required to help this reptile survive.  I love the loose wispy style of this drawing which is very inviting to the viewer.

 

 

 

Fans of the Forest Artwork

A definite choice for me, particularly as I was at the release day for these endangered Chequered Skipper butterflies – and this drawing brings back wonderful memories.

Creative Q & A

It would be great to hear about your experience of wildlife and biodiversity through creativity, for example, do you connect to nature through a creative outlet and have you got an early memory of nature in books, film, poetry that you can think back to having had an influence on you? How about now?

My earliest memory would be building a small pond with my father, spending time in the woods and nature areas local to me as a child and learning while out and about, usually quite by accident.  If you’re out there, you’re more likely to experience things of course.  My mother relies on nature for her art creations and from her influence I have found that not only being in nature, but recognising and appreciating the smaller creatures, can be beneficial for the mind and soul.  Art is most often an expression of how one is feeling and is accessible to all – as a lot of the artists have proven in the work I have chosen, it does not need new materials or to be expensive and it can be done with various media that is recycled, and can make you think in more detail about how these materials can be utilised to express thoughts and messages about helping nature to thrive, and highlighting those creatures that most would not have engaged with previously, but are made aware of by this beautiful artwork produced.

Do you think our efforts to reach people through creative workshops and events are positive initiatives? Why?

I certainly believe that with BfTB’s help in encouraging awareness through art and creative workshops, and particularly the work with schools, that it will not only have a positive impact on the creatures so desperately in need of our urgent help but a positive effect on the people that engage with both nature and the artwork it influences.

Back from the Brink is an England-wide collaborative partnership programme of major conservation organisations, landowners and farmers – what are you views on collaboration nationally and internationally?

Through the book I have written and through my YouTube channel “Wild Your Garden With Joel Ashton” I have managed to engage with people worldwide about making spaces in their gardens and green areas and am so encouraged by the enthusiasm and responses – there are more people than I ever thought possible that are keen to make a difference, even in the smallest of spaces.  While we, as the world, collectively try to manage the bigger picture we need to keep creating safe-havens and habitats for those creatures waiting for the bigger changes.

 

Joel Ashton

Wildlife Garden Designer and Installer

@_joelashton - Twitter/Instragram

 

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