Open Call to Dorset Artists and Makers - THE INSTINCT OF HOPE

Open Call to Dorset Artists and Makers - THE INSTINCT OF HOPE

Dorset Art Weeks at Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve (NNR)

25 May – 9 June 2024

Dorset Art Weeks (DAW) is organising a new exhibition as part of this year’s event in the stunning clifftop setting of the Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve from 25 May – 9 June.

Taking its title and inspiration from the poem by John Clare, ‘The Instinct of Hope’  will feature new work from selected artists living or working in Dorset. A total of six artists will be selected from across the county, including Purbeck, uniting the different geographical regions of the county, and reflecting the diverse and rich character of Dorset and the artists who live and work here. 

This specially-curated exhibition is an exciting new approach by Dorset Visual Arts (DVA) which has declared a climate and ecological emergency, and will show new and recent work by artists who work with biodiversity, the environment or a location-based practice or project. As we acknowledge the challenges and threats to the natural world at this time, ‘The Instinct of Hope’ will feature a selected range of work by artists who are responding to a distinctive aspect, or elements, of Dorset’s unique landscape. 

Dorset is home to an incredible but fragile bounty of natural wonder. Chalk streams and downland. Veteran trees and ancient woodland. Herb-rich grasslands and heath. Wood pasture and wildflower meadows. Dune systems and lagoons. Undulating, dramatic coast stretching through eons. The range and scale is vast - insects, birdlife, reptiles, mosses, lichen and grasses form part of this rich tapestry, as well as the larger elements which inform ecology and biodiversity such as the underlying and shifting geology. 

Submissions are invited with a location or research-specific focus that  encapsulates notions of wellbeing, repair, rewilding as well as access to nature.

A variety and range of art forms and approaches are welcome, with artists responding to their local environment and thinking about the ‘nature’ of ecology and how we see and experience it. As well as responding to specific or particular aspects of ‘nature’, work could even include more lateral elements, such as responses to weathering, rockforms or evidence of climate events, and how these interact with and shape wildlife and natural processes.

As Dorset Visual Arts and Dorset Council declares a Climate and Ecological Emergency, this exhibition seeks to raise awareness of the inspiring elements and wonder which make the county so unique, and why we should cherish, value and celebrate it. What survives and thrives? What clings on or could disappear if we don’t act? Where do we find ourselves now? Can a deeper relationship to nature help with a sense of ‘placing’ or grounding for ourselves or a sense of belonging or community?

As we better understand threats to habitat such as resource depletion, neglect, and a shifting climate, how can a well informed and more mindful consideration of ‘natural’ wonder contribute to our individual and collective wellbeing and future hopes for what we call home?

“We in the cultural sector have immense potential to be the generators of transformation”

Some important locations and ideas:

  • Durlston Country Park NNR – wildflower meadows, downland, sea-cliffs and migrant birds and moths
  • Kingcombe Meadows - undisturbed farmland
  • Powerstock Common - wood pasture
  • Fontmell Down and Egdon Heath (literary associations, real and fictional)
  • Purbeck Heaths - Super National Nature Reserve
  • Wildflower meadows on Dorset’s Hillforts and downland
  • Marine environment - shoreline and tidal, cliff colonies, Kimmeridge Bay
  • Chalk streams and downland
  • Ancient trees - Oak and Yew
  • Poole Harbour salt marsh, verges
  • Cranborne Chase- AONB (now National Landscapes)
  • Chesil Fleet
  • Overlooked and undervalued margins; road verges, farmland and urban sites are important elements of this patchwork too

Selection and administration process:
Artists are invited to submit 6 - 8 pieces of work for consideration by Wetransfer link ONLY to [email protected] by Weds 21 February 2024, 5pm, along with a 100 word statement which explains how your work explores a particular area and looks at the natural world and the biodiversity of Dorset. 

This opportunity is suitable for artists who are living and/or working professionally in Dorset and we welcome applications from emerging and establishing artists. We welcome a variety of art forms and approaches, traditional and contemporary, conceptual and installation, including film and photography.

An expert panel, led by Paul Newman, Creative Director, DVA, will select the work.

Judging and Selection: Weds 28 February 2024

Notification: Fri 1 March

Exhibition runs 25 May – 9 June 2024

2d work must be professionally presented and framed with d-rings and cord

3d work must come with it’s own plinths (Durlston CPNNR may be able to provide some) and be professionally and securely presented

Selected artists will be required to help invigilate and do one sitting per week, opening hours are 10am - 4pm Agreement to this is a condition of selection. Free overnight accommodation is available at Durlston to support this.

Commission on work for sale is 35% which will help with administration and exhibition costs 

  • Delivery day:  Mon 20 May 2024, by 12pm
  • Installation: Mon 20 + Tues 21 May
  • Exhibition Opens: Fri 24 May
  • Last day of Exhibition: Sun 9 June
  • Take down and collection of works: Mon 10 + Tues 11 June 2024

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