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Students' Dover Castle exhibition commemorates bird’s Kent return

Students from Dover Technical College’s Art and Design department have wowed visitors with an exhibition at Dover Castle.

Having taken place on Monday, The Chough Bird Artwork Trail featured 11 pieces of art created by learners currently in their second year of Level 3 education.

The department took over the King’s Chamber, chapel and throne room for the trail, which was visited by College staff, Dover’s Mayor and students’ parents.

Completed over a series of classes in July, students used a range of media – from paint and drawing to digital art software – to tell the many stories behind the little black birds.

The event is being held in partnership with the Kent Wildlife Trust, English Heritage and Wildwood, who worked together to bring choughs to Dover earlier this year after a 200-year absence.

Rebecca Upson, Lecturer in Art and Design, said: “It’s been wonderful working with the Kent Wildlife Trust on this project, and the students have really enjoyed learning all about these fascinating birds.

“Many of the pieces in the trail relate to the mythology surrounding choughs, particularly the story of a crow coming to peck on Becket’s body and staining its legs and beak red.

“The artists have each found fascinating and unique ways of telling the story and showcasing the birds, and it’s truly an honour for their work to be presented in such a historic setting.”

Dover’s Mayor Cllr Gordon Cowan said: “Thank you to the College for inviting me to this beautiful exhibition - the artwork is fantastic as each piece tells the history of the chough in such different ways.

“The students and staff have had to go through the horrible time of Covid but have come out of it raring to go – I’m so proud of all of the art department for this amazing work.”

Representatives of Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) gave a presentation to the class about choughs and, upon visiting the Artwork Trail, wilding ecologist Kirsty Swinnerton said: “It’s great to see Kent students highlighting choughs, as they’ve been gone from the county for so long that we need to recreate the culture of celebrating them as part of our heritage.”

Head of education at the Trust, Lee Mason-Baldwin, said: “Hopefully these students will be the ones in 20 years’ time with choughs out in their gardens, so it’s really good to see young people getting involved in the re-introduction project.

Tours were on offer of the chough enclosure, where four birds are currently living on the castle grounds.

The Art and Design department at the EKC Group’s Dover Technical College is led by industry professionals, offering top-class tuition in all types of art media.

For more information on the department, click here.