A COMMISSIONER is being sought for an 'innovative and exciting' environmental art project at Meldon aimed at celebrating the beauty of Dartmoor.

Environmental artist Yvette Martin from Thorndon Cross has designed a maze sculpture inspired by the mythology, history and sheer strength of the Dartmoor landscape which would act as a stepping stone to the moor.

Yvette, whose work includes the famous Four Seasons sculpture in the Forest of Dean, has been progressing the idea for two years and has gained a positive reaction from local businesses, groups and organisations.

Permission has been given by a local farmer to site the sculpture on his land at South Down, Meldon, and a planning application has been submitted to Dartmoor National Park.

Although the artist has great hopes that funding will be forthcoming for the project she needs a commissioner before she can apply to various sources including the Lottery for cash.

'A commissioner would pay me for the idea and take on the ownership of the project,' she said. 'The money to build it would come from elsewhere but the commissioner would get all the glory.'

Yvette said the maze, consisting of seven circles built like a Devon hedge and a granite 'tor' in the centre which could be used as a stage for small performing arts events, would relate totally to its site.

'Meldon Quarry is incredibly rich in its variety of stone and I want to reflect this in the layers of the maze,' said the artist. 'The qualities of the quarry stone would be used to the full in the design.

'My desire is to create something made in, on, of and for its location — to celebrate the beauty of the place and act as a stepping stone to Dartmoor.'

Yvette, who has an MA in environmental sculpture from the Royal College in London, said there was a history of mazes going back 3,000 years and spanning a multitude of cultures throughout the world.

'British people love puzzles and the image of the maze is one we conjure up in our mind's eye on almost a daily basis to describe anything from council planning to mental health,' she said.

'Mazes constantly appear in publications, games and language because of their ability to confuse, question, challenge, tease and dismay but then, finally, give,' she said.

'The pure sense of personal achievement, gain and even pride when you make it to the end would be enhanced ten-fold by the sheer exhilaration of the Dartmoor backdrop.'

The site at South Down is close to Meldon reservoir and viaduct, parking facilities, the new cycle path and the the Dartmoor Railway link between Okehampton and Meldon.

Assistance is being given from the arts officer at West Devon Borough Council to develop the project and support has been given by the Dartmoor Society and Devon Rural Skills Trust.

The artist is keen to get on board as many people as possible and is planning to talk to local groups and schools about her idea.

Commercial manager for Dartmoor Railway Ian Rudd said the project was 'brilliant'.

'I thought, 'wow' when I first saw it,' he said. 'It is such a simple idea but that is what is so good about it.

'We have just got to have this — it would be such a great tourist attraction and accessible to everyone.'

Spokesman for Dartmoor National Park Authority John Weir said this was potentially an exciting project but it would be subject to planning permission.

'In principal the idea is innovative and exciting,' he said. 'The original idea was to put it in a moorland location but the artist was told this would be totally unacceptable.

'Members will discuss the chosen site in relation to public access, effect on the landscape and use of materials,' he said.

If anyone is interested in commissioning this project they should call Yvette Martin on 01837 861186.