Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project SWLA Artists Residencies
Wallasea island lies in the Thames Estuary to the south of Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex. The RSPB have created a nature reserve from scratch on the site creating a new salt marsh and lagoon habitat in what will be the largest coastal restoration project of its type in Europe. Over three years they raised the level of the island by addition of enormous quantities of clay and minerals extracted in the construction of London’s Crossrail project.
The RSPB and the society of Wildlife artists worked together to document the creation of this reserve through art and I organised four residencies between April 2015 and June 2017. Each residency involved six artists and we spent four days immersing ourselves in the landscape and distilling the experience into drawings sketches and paintings.
A total of eighteen SWLA artists visited the reserve creating a unique digital archive of artwork documenting its development. The first residency produced many artworks of the massive earth moving equipment involved in this huge task and subsequent visits documented the gradual colonisation of the bare mud with saltmarsh plants and the dramatic increase in numbers of birds such as Short-eared owls, Marsh Harriers, Avocets and Little Ringed Plovers.
Below are a few sketches and paintings from those trips. RSPB Wallasea is now a proper nature reserve which I’d thoroughly recommend for a visit.