Polar bear takes pride of place in crocheted menagerie
PUBLISHED: 13:23 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:23 04 June 2019
From seals to skylarks and even the occasional stoat, the Norfolk coast is famed for its diverse wildlife.
And now one seaside village has an altogether unexpected new animal resident - an 8ft tall polar bear.
But anyone with concerns over the colossal carnivore need not fear - this bear was created by crochet.
It's the latest addition to the menagerie of Overstrand artist Shauna Richardson, who has dubbed her stitched creations 'Crochetdermy'.
Mrs Richardson said the polar bear took five months to complete, and has drawn many amused reactions from people visiting as part of Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios.
She said: "Luckily we have a high ceiling, he stands 8ft tall.
"I think Overstrand is probably one of the last places people are expecting to see a life-size polar bear and reactions are what one might expect - at the minute I am fielding a lot of 'how? What? Why? type questions."
She said there was an environmental message behind the project - polar bears are classed as a 'vulnerable' species threatened by the loss of sea ice due to climate change.
Mrs Richardson said: "The bear is a lot of fun but, via social media I am able to use images of him to direct viewers towards important conservation organisations such as polarbearsinternational.org and savethearctic.org."
The artist, who moved to Norfolk from Leicester last year, did her first animal crochet more than 10 years ago - a life-sized brown bear.
Deer, donkeys, monkeys, bull's heads and much more followed.
Among her favourite works are three 25ft lions, which were commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad to mark the 2012 Olympics.
Called the Lionheart Project, it was the biggest single-handed crochet sculpture in the world.
After the polar bear, Mrs Richardson said she was now attempting to take a break from the crochet hook. She said: "However, it only takes the merest of ideas to seep into my mind and I'll be up and burning the midnight oil once more."
The final opportunity to see the polar bear and other artworks as part of Open Studios is this weekend - June 8-9 - 10am to 5pm.
Visit www.nnopenstudios.org.uk for the details of where to find the studios of Mrs Ricardson and other artists taking part.
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