Illustration students and the estuary
Two groups of Illustration students from Pymouth University have been working with Tidelines on a project exploring how to draw greater attention to the diversity of life in the Exe estuary and the estuary as a living system. We had a series of online meetings and tutorials with them and explored together the importance of crafting visual imagery to appeal to a wide audience to increase knowledge of whole systems and to increase participation and caring. We asked them to consider young adults in particular and, as an extra component, to consider a unified campaign based around a Tidelines temporary exhibition in a public space. They have come up with some wonderful ideas! They include stickers, stamps, a trail, a mural and posters.
We would really like to thanks the students and staff at Plymouth University for their hard work on this project. Below is a report of how it went for the group called Lyra followed by some work from the other group called Mario.
As part of our second year module our group had the opportunity to work with Tidelines, creating artwork that would highlight the hidden species within the Exe Estuary.
Within this, we were able to work with Tidelines to create various artworks, that could not only promote their diligent work in protecting the estuary, but also promote the lives of the creatures that share the estuary with the community there. Though sadly due COVID-19 restrictions we were prevented from visiting the estuary ourselves, we cannot thank Anne- Marie and Jo enough for their help in answering our questions on the wildlife they often see around their community, but also in their inspiration to ensure any work we created could be produced in a way that would maintain the protection of the sensitive eco-system.
An initial sketch page.
Through our talks with Tidelines, and as a group, we settled on a collection of creatures we found visually interesting, to produce a series of work that could be used to promote their protection within the estuary’s community. The rag worms, mussels and mud snails are all mostly hidden from the naked eye, preferring to hide within their homes within the mud flats of the estuary. Part of our goal in working with Tidelines was to promote the lives of these hidden creatures through our artwork, and so they made obvious choices for us to focus on. Brent geese and the grey seals, were also added into our work, as a popular favourite among residents. Part of this work also allowed us to base our process on a systems thinking model, highlighting the importance of each part of the estuary’s fragile eco-system; from the big to the tiny!
Lyra intital sketch page 2
Our work consisted of exploring how these creatures would interact, whilst taking on the challenge of making the creatures more approachable, recognisable and fun. We wanted to create recognisable characters from the creatures that could be utilised in a variety of ways across Tidelines’ work; from creating stickers, to mugs and tote bags. Within this, we also wanted to create a design for a potential large-scale mural featuring the characters, that would allow Tidelines to further promote their work, in a potential newly opening shop/workshop space. We wanted to continue to promote a sense of sustainability within this, so also conducted research as part of our project, into where these products could potentially be made to keep things eco-friendly as well as local where possible. This was incredibly important to us, not only to honour Tideline’s core message within our work, but also to ensure that we were protecting the wildlife physically with any work we were creating, as well as promoting their cause to the community of the estuary.
Through our journey, we created a series of mock-upconcepts for a mural using a building Tidelines hoped to secure within the centre of their village, as well as producing several mock-ups of products using our characters that could further promote their cause, perhaps even taking the work further afield than the local community within the Exe Estuary.
Mockups of a possible window mural
Overall, we really enjoyed working with Tidelines on this project, and relished the challenge of bringing these usually hidden creatures to the surface within our work. We cannot thank Tidelines enough for their continued hard work and help when it came to researching the estuary from afar, and hope to one day be able to bring our concepts for the products and mural to life.
Team Lyra (JD, Josh, Sophie and Jacob, Plymouth University, BA (Hons) Illustration)
Team Mario developed an idea to create a trail around the estuary along the Exe Trail exploring the use of ‘letterboxes’ such as are common on Dartmoor and stamps which could be collected along the wayn in a specially designed book. They also produced a poster which could be given as a prize for completion of the trail. One of the group, Renee, elected to pursue certain elements of the project further after the module was completed.
A version of the Mario poster.
The Stamp Book
Primary sketches from Mario
Sticker bags from Renee.
Team Mario: Renee, Anna, Greta and Anna.
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