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Painting Tolpuddle Martyr's Tree

Photo of Bob at Tolpuddle Martrys' tree photo National Trust Clive Whitbourn

Published at 8:31am 19th May 2019.

Bringing the story of the Tolpuddle Martyr's Tree to life with the National Trust

  • Artist Bob and Roberta Smith will be teaching local pupils to paint.
  • Locals are being invited to join in and make paintings of the tree.

The National Trust is holding a series of events this summer to celebrate the Tolpuddle Martyr's Tree, famous for sheltering under its branches the six agricultural labourers who became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

The 320 year old tree is being celebrated this year as part of the Trust's People's Landscapes programme, which marks places where people came together to create change.

Artist Bob and Roberta Smith (pictured) has been commissioned to work with the Trust at Tolpuddle.

He will hold art schools under the Tree with pupils from Thomas Hardye school in Dorchester and Wey Valley in Weymouth, teaching them to paint. The students will paint portraits on placards of people who are imprisoned today for their art.

He said: "We will be thinking about some of the artists around the world today who have tried to speak out using their art, and have been imprisoned for it. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were just ordinary people trying to better their situation. I think that's what we all want - a better world."

Locals get involved

Local people will also be invited into sessions to paint the tree itself on placards. All the placards will be on display during the Tolpuddle Festival at 19-21 July, and again in a special exhibition at Shire Hall in Dorchester, home to the original court room and jail where the Martyrs were held and convicted.

Sophie Bull, who is co-ordinating the project for the National Trust, said: "It's wonderful to be able to invite young people and local adults to learn to paint with Bob. Not only is he a celebrated artist with an international reputation, but he is passionate about opening up access to art for everyone."

As part of a series of community events, the National Trust is also organising storytelling under the Tree as part of the Tolpuddle Street Fayre. Local storyteller Martin Maudsley will spin tales for families on Sunday 26 May. There will also be a walk from Tolpuddle to Dewlish on Saturday 15 June, following the footsteps of the Martyrs.

On 6 June at 2pm amateur artists can join Bob and Roberta Smith for a session to paint the tree.

More information about the events can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardys-cottage

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