PURBECK’S ‘Artful Ranger’ painted for more than 100 hours to create a new mural at the Corfe Castle ticket office.
Mark Newton, a National Trust Ranger in Purbeck in Dorset, earned his nickname due to his talent for drawing and painting wildlife.
Recently, he took on his largest ever commission; to paint a mural on the wall of the ticket office at Corfe Castle in Wareham.
The mural – measuring 4.6 x 3.2 metres – was painted in acrylics and depicts Corfe Castle and the various wildlife, flora and fauna to be found around the ruins.
Mark described the work as a true labour of love, which took 11 hours of planning and 110 hours of painting, which he did in the evenings after finishing his day job.
“Now more than ever, environmental issues and declining biodiversity are hugely important topics, so I think it’s vital to raise people’s awareness of the beauty and uniqueness of our natural heritage,” he said.
“It really means a lot to have my work in such a public place, where visitors can see it and learn about the animals and plants at Corfe Castle.”
The once bare wall now highlights:
• Alexanders plant: It is thought the Romans brought Alexanders plant to the UK and its seeds and leaves were used as a treatment for scurvy due to its high vitamin C content. It grows all around the castle mound and was likely enjoyed by over 150 different insect species and locals, who used it as salad leaves.
• Pale St John’s Wort: This plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries and the sunny yellow petals would’ve been used to create yellow dyes. Nationally scarce, this plant thrives in the chalky soils of the castle’s grounds.
• Wall Lizards: These aren’t native to Corfe Castle but were first recorded there in 2006. It’s thought they were released by a private breeder but have taken to Corfe Castle being home, spending time among the rubble and walls of the castle and basking in the sunshine on warm days.
• Peregrine falcons: The Peregrine takes the title as the fastest creature on the plant. When it folds its wings and nosedives towards its prey, it achieves speeds of up to 200mph. Peregrines nest on ledges of tall buildings and at Corfe Castle (a medieval skyscraper), are up 21m high. After WW2 Peregrines almost became extinct in the UK.
Other species painted include swifts, jackdaws, the Adonis Blue butterfly, ravens and Herdwick Sheep who are employed around the castle mound, helping to keep back the long grasses and encourage specialist wildflowers to grow.
Mark’s mural can be seen at the Corfe Castle ticket office during opening hours (10am to 4pm). For opening times and events at Corfe Castle, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle.