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Westbury kids can get arty and horsey

October 24, 2012 9:44 AM

Wiltshire has received £30,100 to be spent on young people being able to explore the white horses and chalk hill figures in the county under a new project, Virtual Landscapes.

Wiltshire Council got the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the project which will take place in four locations.

Led by young people aged 11 to 25 from Tidworth, Ludgershall, Pewsey and Westbury, the project focuses on the heritage of the figures in the county. It provides the opportunity to explore their identity and significance through creative media activities, storytelling and reworking old media and archives to bring new life to the figures from the landscape around them.

There are chalk hill figures dotted across the UK but Wiltshire is unique in being home to eight white horses dating from ancient times to the modern day, as well as a range of 20th century military badges. The project looks at why they are important to young people in Wiltshire and their significance for the transitory military communities.

Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for culture, said: "It's brilliant we have received this lottery funding to help young people from the county learn all about the heritage, history and significance of these recognisable landmarks."

Commenting on the grant award, Richard Bellamy, HLF's acting head of south west, said: "Although chalk figures are found in other parts of the country, they are a characteristic feature of Wiltshire's rural landscape. The fact that so many have survived in the county and that in some instances new figures have been created, is a tribute to the motivation of local people in caring for them. We are delighted to support this project, which will stimulate the interest of a new generation in the figures, ensuring their survival into the future."

The project will enable young people from these areas to discover the origins of them by working with heritage professionals, visiting the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham and the chalk hill figures. Professional artists will work with the young people to help them create their own interpretations using a range of creative media technologies and to share them with friends and relatives online. Virtual Landscapes will also offer young people involved the chance to achieve an Arts Award, a nationally recognised qualification by taking part and sharing their experiences with others.

The council's arts service is working with Wiltshire Youth Arts Partnership (WYAP) and the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre to deliver this project. People who would like more information about the project, or know someone who would like to get involved should email arts@wiltshire.gov.uk. WYAP can be followed on twitter @WyapArts