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Importance of the dormouse in Picket Piece marked with new public art

A shiny, new sculpture to mark the existence of some unusual village residents has been unveiled on Locksbridge Road in Picket Piece.

Extremely elusive, and increasingly rare, the hazel dormouse favours woodland and hedgerow habitats, which are characteristic of the area.

As a protected species, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Test Valley Borough Council carefully manages and shapes the local landscape, in order to look after them.

Artist Svetlana Kondakova Muir was selected to work with the local community to create this new piece of artwork, which has been entirely funded by developer contributions.

A series of nature-themed activities were carried out with students from Vigo School and Winton Community Academy, as well as with local residents, in order to pick the final design, which was chosen through a public vote.

The aluminium sculpture, which took seven months to make, features maps of the Picket Piece area from 1897, 1958 and 2022 engraved onto the side, which documents the change in the land to the present day.

Children’s drawings representing themes of community, friendship, love, nature, and landscape have also been included on the artwork.

Svetlana, said:

“This was the first project I had worked on where, at the time of being commissioned, I had absolutely no idea what the artwork would look like. This was both exciting and frightening! I was very pleased that the public had voted for the dormouse as it is a very special little animal.

“I also loved working with the school children on ideas of how to decorate the surface of the sculpture, their sincere and uninhibited creations spoke of friendship, love, family, and nature, all the ingredients of a great community!  The artwork is also the first big sculpture which I created entirely with my own hands, it was a massive challenge, but this made it all the more rewarding and I will always think of it as one of my greatest achievements.”

Andover Downlands Councillor, Nick Lodge, added:

“I’m very pleased that the dormouse artwork has now been unveiled, Svetlana has done a brilliant job. This piece of work really demonstrates how our community can work together; it has been wonderful to have so many different groups of people involved with this project at different stages. I would like to thank everyone who has helped make the idea a reality.”

In Picket Piece, Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has planted native hedgerows which provide the dormice with a habitat and food source.

These small mammals are also surveyed throughout the year to monitor population sizes. This is done using nest boxes located within the hedgerows, with all of the data contributing towards the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme.