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In a captivating tribute to Dorset's unique wildlife, a talented artist from Purbeck is due to unveil a striking popup installation that celebrates the region's beloved sand lizard in partnership with national wildlife charity, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC).

The installation, a concept being developed by a visionary artist, Eilidh Middleton, working in partnership with ARC to raise awareness about the significance of preserving the delicate ecosystem that supports these remarkable reptiles.

Nestled in the heart of Dorset, the Purbeck Heaths constitute the country’s largest lowland heath national nature reserve. The temporary installation will be situated along East Creech road in Wareham and is due to be unveiled on 14th August, marking World Lizard Day. The installation aims to capture the essence of the sand lizard and its natural habitat, while offering a thought-provoking experience for visitors. Eilidh, renowned for her ability to merge art and nature seamlessly, approached ARC with the concept and is now working on the installation using a combination of recycled materials.

The Sand lizard is one such and a favourite of mine. As a child in Trinidad I was fascinated by lizards and would catch them to gaze more closely at them. Enthralled by their beautiful skin patterns and colouration, their intelligent faces and inquisitive bright eyes. The fact that they could drop their tails for a quick escape and then grow new ones amazed me. 

I often walk across Creech Heath, the shake of a heather stalk indicates a Sand lizard’s shimmy for cover below. Smaller than a human finger they remain out of eyesight for most; so I wanted to do something larger than life to bring the public’s attention to them. In Dorset we have a number of Chalk Hillside drawings, borrowing this medium to represent the sand-lizard serves to magnify it to gigantic proportions and give it maximum visibility.

Eilidh will be working with ARC experts and volunteers, to produce an abstract sand lizard, synthesising the endangered species’ personality and character.

I believe my installations reach people that may otherwise not engage with art. Art is a way to bring emotion and human scale to problems so they might be considered, becoming less frightening and thereby encourage the start of positive change. Says the artist.

The installation also incorporates an educational aspect, providing visitors with informative signage that highlight the importance of preserving the sand lizard's habitat. By blending art and education, ARC hopes to inspire a greater sense of responsibility and stewardship among the community, encouraging visitors to the Purbecks to take part in the protection and conservation of the region's biodiversity.

Circularity is key to my work and I practice it whenever its possible, constructing each new Installation from components of previous Installations. The reuse and regeneration of materials that still have worth is important to me. The Sand Lizard will predominantly be constructed from the materials of last Augusts “Wind Hive” which appeared on Swyre head.

One of my largest previous art Installations, a six meter long fish skeleton, was hauled in from the sea on to Swanage beach. The skeleton, comprising of three hundred and sixty small fish, was a harbinger of the fate befalling many sea creatures. A protest to overfishing and the destructive techniques of the fishing industry. Today small fish from this installation are still being thrown into the sea and rivers all over the world linked to an Instagram platform with information on how to support our maritime and fresh water species.

In addition to its artistic value, the installation will mark the start of ARC’s #DisappearingHeathland campaign about the importance of safeguarding the both reptile and amphibian native habitats from potential threats such as habitat destruction and climate change. The artist's work has ignited a renewed commitment among locals to preserve the unique flora and fauna that make Dorset such a remarkable place.

ARC’s Communication and Engagement manager, Anju Sarpal said: Eilidh’s new work will serve as a testament to the power of art in raising awareness and inspiring action. By weaving together creativity, conservation, and community engagement, this extraordinary installation will leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who experience it, reminding us of the profound connection between art, nature, and the need to protect our natural heritage.

Find out more by follow the artist via Instagram and keep and eye on the ARC website for updates.