Art Exhibition Highlights Threat To Shaftesbury Scenery 

The beauty of North Dorset’s wooded spaces will fill the walls of Shaftesbury Arts Centre’s Gallery from 21st March.

Visitors will find Gary Cook’s painting of a foggy Park Walk haunting. His brushstrokes have captured the enchanting light between the trunks and branches of trees at Melbury Beacon.

Gary Cook

There’s a deeper, important environmental message in each painting, too.

Gary is concerned that Britain’s ash trees might face decimation by a fungus more devastating for Dorset’s landscapes than Dutch elm disease. “90 percent of Britain’s ash trees could be at risk from ash dieback,” Gary warns.

The artist is now painting woodland landscapes as a lasting record of what we could lose.

Attentive gallery visitors will notice that each of Gary’s pieces included a grid reference, pinpointing its exact location. This detail means that the true impact of the blight could be assessed in the future.

Gary’s 25 displayed paintings are etched with additional pencil-written text, listing insects, birds and wildlife. “1,053 species rely on ash trees. I wanted to show how everything is connected,” Gary says.

Some of the pictures include small drawings of a beetle or a bird’s feather, representing potentially affected species.

Dorset-born Gary understands how images can communicate a story. He worked as a graphics editor for the Sunday Times for 25 years.

Gallery visitors will see how the artist has used his creative skills to share a stark warning through the stunning Shaftesbury area scenery.

Gary’s Shaftesbury Arts Centre Gallery exhibition ‘Rooted in Dorset’ runs between 21st and 27th March. View his work online at