12 December 2019

Our College is very proud to have staff whose accomplishments and achievements are a real inspiration to our students.

Three fantastic examples of this are our artistic staff members, Mr Jackson, Mr Martin and Mr Roberts.

Visual arts technicians Mr Jackson and Mr Roberts have both had their designs selected for the 2020 Moor Otters Trail, while TA Mr Martin, who supports our students with additional needs, has had some of his work chosen by Help for Heroes for their Christmas merchandise.

Here are their stories …

Mr Martin creates his pieces - usually monochrome landscape scenes - using a fine liner pen on wood, canvas, paper and other materials. This Christmas, you can see three of his designs adorning Help for Heroes’ festive merchandise including T-shirts and tea towels.

He took up art a few years ago as a therapy after being belatedly diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following his experiences while serving in the Royal Navy in the Falklands in 1982. Mr Martin was on board the SS Atlantic Conveyor when the ship was hit by two Argentine Exocet missiles.  Twelve men died and Mr Martin sustained a fractured skull and broken bones when the impact threw him across the compartment where he was working.

“I had PTSD for over 30 years without realising it. Since the diagnosis, three things have really helped me: linking up with Help for Heroes, taking up art and this College. Working here is like a breath of fresh air.”

In October, Mr Martin exhibited in the ‘Creative Force’ Help for Heroes Exhibition at the Royal William Yard. He donates half of his sales proceeds to the charity: “Help for Heroes has really inspired me - they’ve brought me back from the dead, really. Through being involved with them, I look forward to life, where before I was living in the past.”

Take a look at Nick’s gold and silver Christmas tree T-shirt design and the tea towels depicting two wintry scenes at the Help for Heroes website: https://shop.helpforheroes.org.uk/blogs/news/stepping-stones-to-a-better-future-for-nick.

It’s a successful time, too, for Mr Jackson and Mr Roberts, who are among the 80 local and national artists chosen to paint otters-with-cubs sculptures for the 2020 Moor Otters Trail being run by Dartmoor National Park Authority. The public will be able to view the sculptures at four different trails next summer.

For artist Mr Jackson, it follows his Elmer elephant, Hipsta Saila, which raised £8,900 for St Luke’s Hospice ( https://www.sdcc.net/news/2019-10-11-hipsta-saila-elmer-elephant-raises-8-900 ). His otter continues the theme: “I’m doing ‘Hipsta Otta & Son’ and the pup will be in the front’, said Mr Jackson. “It was Mr Roberts’ idea to submit a design after he saw it publicised. So I encouraged him to submit a design, too, and we were both chosen, which is great!”

Mr Roberts specialises in photography and digital art and will be using these skills for his Moor Otter, which has a Viking legend theme: “Mine is called Viking Otr, from a legendary Danish tale. It will have true to life components, so he’ll have a wooden shield and a drinking horn. It will probably be different to the others, as I’ll be using digital methods.”

Mr Jackson and Mr Roberts attended the launch event at Bovey Castle, where they met naturalist and TV wildlife presenter Nick Baker, who has been asked to paint a Moor Otter, too.

Sixty of the 3ft tall otters will be on a trail on Dartmoor, with the other 20 being in three smaller trails in ‘gateway’ towns and cities on the edge of the moor. All the money raised will go towards helping the environment within Dartmoor National Park Authority, such as tackling erosion.

The trail goes live on 27 May 2020 - World Otter Day. They will then be collected, tidied up by the artists if needed, and auctioned in September 2020.  https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/moor-otters .

The College wishes James, Lee and Nick the best of luck with these ventures!