An online raffle of ceramic beaver artworks is being held to raise funds for England’s first beaver re-introduction project, in east Devon.
Ceramicist Helen Hodson, who lives in Hassocks, makes a variety of animal artworks. When she created some beavers for the first time, they sold out quickly. Helen then decided to donate a family of ceramic beavers to The Wildlife Trusts to support the charity’s beaver project on east Devon’s river Otter.
Helen has created an online raffle, with every £5 donation giving donors a chance to win one of her beaver artworks. All proceeds from the raffle support the Wildlife Trust-led River Otter Beaver Trial, the project which is monitoring England’s only wild beaver families – and their effects on the landscape – for the next five years. The results of this trial will influence Government decisions on the future of beaver re-introduction in England.
Helen says she was always keen on both crafts and nature as a child – but ceramics are a relatively recent passion: “I took a pottery evening class four years ago and remember making a lizard with the first ball of clay I was handed. I loved it so much that I haven’t stopped making since!
“Taking a lump of mud and turning it into something that will sit on somebody’s shelf is incredibly satisfying. I now have my own studio in Cuckfield and spend most of my spare time there. I’m now able to combine my love of clay and nature which makes it the perfect past-time!”
The ceramic beavers are handmade from stoneware clay and decorated in mottled chestnut and deep brown glazes.
First prize in the raffle is a family of beavers featuring mother and two kits (young). Two runners-up win a beaver kit. And it was the birth of the kits that first inspired Helen’s beaver artworks: “I woke up to the news story about the first baby beavers being born as part of England’s first wild beaver trial, which inspired me to make a beaver family that very day.
“I initially made just mother beaver and two kits and had such a good response from my followers on social media that I went on to make two more kits. It seems everybody likes beavers! I knew straight away that I’d like to support the local Wildlife Trust’s work in this incredible project and offered the ceramic beavers as a donation for a raffle.”
The online raffle is open until 8pm on Wednesday November 18. It is being hosted on a Virgin Money Giving webpage – full details can be seen on Helen Hodson’s website at www.helenhodson.com/beaver-raffle
Beavers are very distinctive animals and are clearly an inspiration to artists. The river Otter beavers have already benefitted from a donation of an oil painting wildlife artist Emma Bowring, which raised £875. Working in ceramics offers different challenges to representing an animal on canvas.
Helen described the process: “My creations are always a minimalist representation of an animal, focusing on form and colour. It usually takes several attempts until I’m happy but the dumpy shape of a beaver meant the making process came quite naturally. Then it was a case of making their key features of large teeth and long flat tails stand out. These are also my first creatures to involve mixed media and I had to hunt for the right size twigs so they could be holding ‘branches’!”
Wildlife Trust spokesman Dan Smith said: “It’s great to see people’s enthusiasm for England’s wild beavers continuing – we’ve already seen local people’s creation of beaver songs, raps and a website; while fundraising for the project has included beaver artworks and book stalls, beaver walks and talks.”
Dan added: “The Trust is very grateful to Helen for donating her ceramic beavers, creating the online raffle and covering the postage cost of the prizes. We’re sure many people will find her family of beavers rather adorable and we look forward to the success of the raffle. Good luck to all who enter!”
More than £200 was raised on the first weekend of the raffle, which runs until Wednesday November 18.
For details on how to enter, see www.helenhodson.com/beaver-raffle
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