New street art trail will celebrate the wilder side of Lowestoft

Hot on the heels of Suffolk Wildlife Trust's successful Carlton Marshes fundraising campaign which included a £4 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, street artist ATM is heading to the town to create the first of a series of giant wildlife murals.

In the coming weeks Suffolk Wildlife Trust will embark on its most ambitious project to date - the creation of a giant new nature reserve and visitor centre at Carlton Marshes, which is located only a stone's throw from Lowestoft town centre. Heralded as the southern gateway to the Broads National Park, Carlton Marshes will offer year-round wild days out, opportunities to get closer to nature and a brand new community hub with wide views over the marshes.

The Trust is to kick the project off by bringing wild animals and birds typically seen at the reserve out on to the town's streets. While it would be rather impracticable to parade a bittern, marsh harrier or fen raft spider along the promenade, bringing these creatures to life, in giant form, on walls throughout the town does seem a fitting way to start and the Trust could think of nobody better to do this than wildlife street artist ATM. Through his artwork, ATM has been highlighting wildlife issues, often with a focus on species and habitat loss, in towns and cities across the world and has collaborated with The Wildlife Trusts on a number of occasions.

Hedgehog mural in Ipswich town centre by ATM

On his first visit to the Suffolk in 2016, ATM created a giant hedgehog mural on a wall in Ipswich town centre. This was in recognition of Ipswich as a hot-spot for hedgehogs and a celebration of all that was being achieved by the town's residents to help the declining species.

This time, ATM will be introducing an icon of Carlton Marshes to a wall in Lowestoft's town centre. But what will it be? Those familiar with the nature reserve undoubtedly know it for kingfishers, barn owls, fen raft spiders and several species of dragonfly, but the Trust has decided to keep you guessing a little longer before revealing what its first superstar street art species will be. They would however, welcome your guesses!

ATM recently visited Lowestoft to scout out suitable walls and said: "The importance of Carlton Marshes is its proximity to the town and how valuable it is for people to be able to easily reach and have contact with a wild piece of nature, so that it becomes part of our everyday lives and we therefore value and cherish it. This also has huge benefits for our own health and well-being as well as for wildlife."

Smith Brothers Lowestoft

The first mural will be painted during half-term (from 22 October) near to the reserve, on the wall of Smith Brothers Timber in Oulton Broad. Subsequent murals will be created throughout the town, as the trail makes it way down to the sea front.

Michael Strand, community fundraising manager at Suffolk Wildlife Trust said: "We're delighted to have ATM back in Suffolk. His work highlighting the plight of wildlife through art creates powerful messages and in this instance will introduce some of the special species found at Carlton Marshes to the town's residents."

Alongside the street art trail, the Trust will be out and about with its Marshes on the Move roadshow. The roadshow will feature marsh-inspired games such as 'guess the smell' and 'match the animal to the poo!' One of its first ports of call will be at the Norwich Science Festival on 19 October. Katy Runacres, learning officer at Carlton Marshes said: "This is the beginning of a whole new chapter for Carlton Marshes, and for nature in Lowestoft. What's happening at the nature reserve is going to put the town firmly on the map as a nature hotspot. I can't wait!"