Giant sand lizard spotted on Purbeck hillside

A huge sand lizard has been unveiled at East Creech near Corfe Castle in Dorset with the aim of highlighting how big a problem the decline of this tiny endangered reptile is becoming in the UK.

The 20 metre long art installation, which goes on temporary display on World Lizard day from Monday 14th to Thursday 31st August 2023, can be discovered on Stone Hill Down just south of East Creech Farm. It can be reached by walking along the Ridge Path from Corfe Castle.

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Giant sand lizard at East Creech

Artist Eilidh Middleton with her giant sand lizard

Hard to ignore and inspiring

The eye-catching artwork is by artist Eilidh Middleton from Church Knowle, who has a reputation for creating hard to ignore and inspiring art installations across Purbeck and beyond.

Previously she has created the Wind Hive at Swyre’s Head, Covid Cages on top of Creech Barrow Hill and a Christmas Cone tree at Hartland Stud near Norden.

Giant sand lizard at East Creech

Guests were invited to the unveiling of the project on Sunday 13th August 2023

Giant sand lizard at East Creech

Seen from a distance among the rolling Purbeck Hills

“Wanted to magnify it so people would see it”

Eilidh Middleton said:

“There are many species going extinct across the world that we know about like the White Rhino but we don’t hear so much about our own species like the sand lizard, which is tiny, almost invisible and elusive. But it’s endangered because its habitat is endangered.

“I’ve always liked lizards and geckos having been brought up in Trinidad, so when I travel to places like Portugal, I’m always sketching them, so I wanted to do something to highlight the issue. Because the sand lizard is so small I wanted to magnify it so people would see it, so I used the medium of hill art to do that.

“I first drew lots of sand lizards and then extracted an image, almost a caricature that was slightly abstract. I then created more than a 100 plywood pieces that were painted white and then it was almost like stitching them together like a dress to build the lizard on the hill. Each piece has a code behind it, so I could put it all together in the right order.

“The image is deliberately disjointed because I wanted it to look like a fossil, to emphasise that it could become extinct and then all we would have left are the fossilised bare bones for someone to discover many years later.”

Man hill art
Eilidh Middleton

The Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset with its eyecatching features was part of the inspiration for the giant sand lizard

Giant sand lizard at East Creech

Anju Sarpal from the wildlife charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, which has supported the creation of the art installation

“The need to protect our natural heritage”

While researching the sand lizard, Eilidh got in contact with the wildlife charity Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and quickly a partnership was formed to make the art installation a reality.

Anju Sarpal from ARC said:

“We think this depiction of the sand lizard is wonderful. Purbeck is home to 12 out of the 13 species of native reptiles and amphibians in the UK making it a precious habitat and the sand lizard is the most beloved. We’re really pleased when Eilidh came along with her lovely ideas to raise awareness of how threatened it is.

“By weaving together creativity, conservation, and community engagement, this extraordinary installation will leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who experience it, reminding us of the profound connection between art, nature, and the need to protect our natural heritage.”

Giant sand lizard at East Creech

The plywood pieces of the sand lizard were recycled from Eilidh’s captivating Wind Hive installation

The wind hive at Swyre Head

The Wind Hive was installed on the top of Swyre’s Head on the Encombe Estate in 2022 and proved quite a talking point

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation guided walk

The charity is organising a series of events to show how much of the sand lizard’s natural habitat we are losing including a guided walk at 1 pm on Saturday 19th August 2023 starting at the East Creech tearooms and walking to the sand lizard installation. It will be led by ARC’s education officer Owain Masters and it’s free to attend.

The pop up installation will only be available to view until Thursday 31st August 2023, when it will be removed.

It was mostly created from the plywood used to build the Wind Hive and the pieces are likely to be reused again and reincarnated into a new project.

Parking & Amenities

From Corfe Castle, take the road to Church Knowle and then just after the village take the right turning at the crossroads towards East Creech. Follow the road round the hairpin bend and the sand lizard is on the hill on the right

TWT Creations drone footage of giant sand lizard

Further information

  • More about Eilidh Middleton’s work is on Instagram
  • Information about the sand lizard and other native reptiles is on the ARC website
  • More content by TNT Creations on Instagram

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