Hardy’s Wessex: Drawing on the ancient past

17 June - 11 July 2022, 10:00am - 1:00pm

A six-week creative course with Helen Garrett

This six-week course led by artist Helen Garrett will take you on a creative journey through Thomas Hardy’s work, inspirations and Dorset Museum’s collections.

Tickets: £140 for 6 weeks, includes tea and coffee and an opportunity to look around the Museum before or after the course sessions. Places are limited.


  • Week 1: 17 June – Material Earth – Geology
    Exploring the unique qualities of rocks and fossils from both the artists and the museum’s collection using raw pigments, chalk and pastel techniques with handmade and cotton papers – with a reference to Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes description of a character meeting face to face a fossilized creature.
  • Week 2: 24 June – The Nature of Trees – with excerpts from The Woodlanders and other writings
    A dynamic session with observational studies from branches, bark and leaves, experimental drawing techniques, working with texture, surface pattern, frottage, subtractive techniques, Graphite blocks and pencil.
  • Week 3: 1 July – The Poetic Imagination – A Journey Through Natural Form
    Using the natural form as our starting place and inspiration we will work in an intuitive way allowing our writing to emerge naturally from our sense of connection with the material and the power of the imagination. Materials will include goose feather quills, Chinese ink for writing and illustrations.
  • Week 4: 8 July – Romantic Landscapes in Art
    Hardy’s descriptions have inspired artists to convey scenes from his stories. We will look at those displayed in the Hardy’s Dorset Gallery and touch on the Romantic Art movement creating atmospheric landscapes. We will draw and paint onto colour grounds using sepia inks, red Conte crayons and pencil.
  • Week 5: 15 July – Drama and The Elements in Hardy’s Writing
    Using a wonderfully exciting ink and bleach technique and inspired by the drama of Hardy’s writing, we will play with scale, contrast, tempest and power in our ink paintings. We will draw imagery from Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Return of the Native and some of Hardy’s best-loved poetry.
  • Week 6: 22 July – Exploring the Hardy Exhibition
    Our last week will offer the opportunity to spend some quality reflective time in the Hardy’s Wessex exhibition; sketching from his personal possessions and other artefacts in the Dorset Museum collection. Using sepia/coloured pencils and our sketchbooks, developing a further study – group reflection time/feedback.
  • Opening hours:

    Daily: 9.00am - 4.30pm
    Sunday: 10.00am - 4.00pm
    Bank Holidays: 10.00am - 4.00pm

  • Dorset Museum

    High West Street
    Dorchester DT1 1XA

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Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

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9 September 2022 - 14 October 2022

Drawing Into Life – 6 Week Creative Course

Six week art course designed for adults interested in art and archaeology. This new course is an exciting opportunity to get up close with some extraordinary artefacts in the collection at Dorset Museum. You will be drawing inspiration from prehistoric art including Neolithic flint tools, Anglo Saxon gold, precious burial goods, Roman mosaics, decorative textiles and archaeological maps amongst others, and have the chance to work directly from the Elisabeth Frink collection.

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Community Exhibition

3 October 2022 - 8 February 2023


Unmasked is a local, voluntary project that began in the dark days of March 2020, when a new disease called COVID-19 literally stopped the world as we knew it.

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Poetry Evening


Who’s in the Next Room?

Poems by Thomas Hardy with new writing from Paul Hyland, Kate Scott, Catherine Simmonds & Pam Zinnemann-Hope

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Big Draw 2022

9 October 2022, 10:30am - 12noon

The Big Draw at Dorset Museum

Come and take part in our Big Draw event at Dorset Museum. Inspired by the natural world around us, colour and natural forms, help us create a giant collage in the style of Henri Rousseau to display in one of our galleries.

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11 October 2022, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Archaeology Highlights Tour

Explore archaeological treasures held by Dorset Museum – from Bronze Age gold to medieval silver -  in this volunteer-led tour.

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13 October 2022, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Museum after hours

Join us for an opportunity to explore the Museum at this free late opening

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13 October 2022, 7:00pm - 8:00pm

A persistent place: a new chronology for Neolithic Dorchester

The area underneath and around the town of Dorchester was an important place for Neolithic people, who built a variety of monuments here over a period of 2000 years. In this talk, Dr Susan Greaney discusses the research project that has obtained radiocarbon dates from samples of antler picks, charcoal and human remains held in the Dorset Museum collection and has been able to build a brand new chronology for the monuments.

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21 October 2022, 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Strings Forever!

Join baroque violinist Emma-Marie Kabanova on a musical journey back in time exploring the dance tunes and folk music beloved by Thomas Hardy and his family.  Tim Laycock and Colin Thompson contribute the traditional dance tunes and folksongs of Dorset on violin, concertina and melodeon.

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