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Community arts competition captures the beauty of local woodland

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Back in October 2020, when it was a bit milder and much less muddy, the local community action group StopTheClaypit campaign team decided to run a community arts competition to celebrate the beautiful woodland, wildlife and nature around us. It was a chance to get the whole family outside and to enjoy the space around us as the leaves changed colour and the acorns fell.

A photography competition was launched, open to all ages, with the only rules being that the image must be taken in Pallinghurst woods, Loxwood, and must have been taken within the past year.

The response was amazing with over 100 entries, covering an array of subject matter from frogspawn puddles to family walks between giant oak trees, toadstools in Autumn, carpets of bluebells and wild garlic in Spring, not to mention the many, many dogs! The standard of photography was extremely high so we called in local, professional photographer, Sian Tyrrell (Sian T. Photography) to help us judge the entries.

First place went to Sue Bennett with her stunning tree image. Sian said: “I love the light and colour in this shot and how it really invites you to walk on down the path. There’s a great atmosphere and warmth that I think many would associate with the area.” Sue won a family photoshoot courtesy of Sian.

Second prize went to Nicola Thurston with her beautiful fungi image and third prize to Garth O'Mara with his bark photo. The 'People's Prize' went to Sam Curling, who captured the most beautiful image of three bright blue eggs in a bird's nest.

A drawing competition for children was run alongside the photographic competition, with the theme 'What I love about the countryside'. There were some wonderful entries and it's clear just how much our younger generation love these woods. Local artist Rob Perry very kindly agreed to judge the competition and first prize went to Freddy Nataraj, age 7. Rob said: “I love the use of brushwork with the watercolour. Freddy has managed to give a dreamy look to the landscape and with his choice of colours has achieved a real sense of natural beauty that emphasises the essence of conservation surrounding this project.” Freddy won a 'decorate your own Teepee' along with lots of art equipment, perfect just before Lockdown 2.

Second prize went to Isobel Cleevely for her beautiful woodland creatures drawing and third prize to Libby Swann with her trees painting.

Well done to everyone who entered and particularly our prize winners. It goes to show how much the woods mean to our community.

On the back of the success of the competition, organiser Lucy Percy decided to produce a limited number of calendars featuring the images. A handful are still available for a donation to StopTheClaypit. If you would like one, please email

This article was originally published in RH14 magazine.

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