The first project to get underway is a vibrant artwork by street artist ATM. The striking piece, featuring a spider crab, will adorn a wall space at Hythe Pier, Southampton, where it is hoped it will inspire visitors to learn more about the hidden wildlife roaming the waters beneath their feet.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, which commissioned the mural, held an online poll for the local community to choose their favourite marine species from six options, with the spider crab being the overwhelming winner. The painting is part of the Trust’s National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project, Secrets of the Solent, which is raising awareness of the important marine habitats and wildlife in the waters surrounding Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Artist ATM is well known for his striking, nature-inspired street art, which juxtaposes detailed acrylic portraits of wildlife with the urban and suburban areas in which they are painted. This is ATM’s second painting for the Trust, with the former – his first-ever marine portrait – being a huge cuttlefish mural outside Portsmouth Museum and Art Gallery.
Later in summer ATM will be painting murals in five other locations, and the Trust is looking forward to sharing the results with the public soon. Each piece will feature a different marine species, highlighting the mesmerising diversity present in our waters.
Artist ATM said: ’I wanted to paint a spider crab as it fits so well into the wall space at the pier. The subject in fact proved to be very difficult, with its eight legs and two claws, each with their complex and subtly articulated joints. I wanted it to look alive as if it was on its sea floor home so included some green algae on its back, which the crab uses this as a form of living camouflage. That's what's so fascinating about painting murals for Secrets of the Solent; as well as being privileged to paint such beautiful creatures I always learn something new and remarkable about each one.'
Alan Titheridge of the Hythe Pier Heritage Association commented: “Hythe Pier Heritage Association is honoured to be hosting the first of the murals of this exciting project on Hythe Pier. We are looking forward to visitors coming along to view our spider crab and hope it will promote a greater understanding of the need to preserve our local marine environment.”
The busy summer continues with the launch of two new Seabins in the Solent. These devices collect marine litter, protecting wildlife from dangerous plastic pollution. The team installed the first Seabin in May at East Cowes Marina on the Isle of Wight and plan to install the second device in early August at Lymington Harbour.
National Marine Week takes place from Saturday July 24th to Sunday 8th August and will be celebrated with the premiere of a new film highlighting the amazing people and wildlife that share the Solent’s coastline and waters. It is hoped the video will inspire pride and support for the Solent and encourage viewers to take positive action to protect the area’s important marine habitats.
Throughout summer there will be opportunities for the public to participate in exciting citizen science activities. Intertidal surveys will take place at a variety of coastal locations from now until the end of October. Volunteers will experience an enjoyable and educational afternoon on the shoreline where they will search the area on foot to record valuable data about the species living in the Solent. If you would like to take part in a survey, sign up at www.hiwwt.org.uk/events
Secrets of the Solent Communications Officer, Siân Addison, commented: “The Solent is home to a surprising array of fascinating species and important habitats which greatly need our protection. We have a busy and exciting summer ahead with many new activities lined up which we hope will inspire people to learn more about the amazing underwater world on our doorstep.”