Author: Nathan Akrill

Jurassic Life! Ammonite painting.Over the last year, Dorset and East Devon museums have benefited from a substantial Heritage Lottery Fund grant which has placed spectacular, locally-discovered fossils in local museums for the benefit of residents and visitors. The initiative, called Jurassic Life, will help to open up the incredible stories of the Jurassic Coast through new exciting displays that are accessible and informative.

An important part of the Jurassic Life project is to encourage new audiences to visit the collections in the museums and also to experience the Jurassic Coast for themselves. In 2010, the Jurassic Coast Team commissioned local artist, Darrell Wakelam, to create a series of workshops that brought to life some of the stories that visitors could expect to see in the museum collections.  Darrell spent time researching the new finds and developed location specific workshops where local families could learn about the fossils that were special on their part of the coast.  Using his techniques of 3D model-making from scrap materials, Darrell has worked with over 400 participants of all ages to create memorable experiences about the Jurassic Coast and the creatures that once lived here.

All the workshops were organised and marketed through the Extended Services Teams throughout Dorset and East Devon. Extended Services (now disbanded by the Coalition Government) provided a service for families (particularly those from disadvantaged social economic groups) who wanted to take an active role in their child’s learning in an out of school setting.  The Jurassic Coast Team commissioned 15 workshops with Darrell and the Extended Services teams across Dorset and East Devon, from Sidmouth to Poole.  The workshops attracted a wide diversity of participants from dads and kids to siblings of terminally ill children.  Darrell Wakelam was the perfect choice to deliver these workshops because he always maintains that his key priority is to provide a meaningful and accessible experience for all involved. His techniques are simple, easy to follow and achieve stunning results.  For any participants who have not yet had a chance to work with Darrell, a Jurassic Life finale workshop based on the new Pliosaur exhibition is scheduled for early July 2011.

Anjana Ford, World Heritage Education Coordinator

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