Gaia Pope: Family appeals for art in memory of teenager

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Image copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope's body was found 11 days after she went missing - her family said "she was an artist so this seems like the perfect way to honour her"

The family of teenager Gaia Pope are appealing for people to create and donate artwork to honour her memory a year after her death.

The 19-year-old was reported missing from Swanage on 7 November. Her body was found 11 days later near the Dorset coast path.

Her family said as the anniversary of her disappearance approached they were "asking people to make something to show she is not forgotten".

The artwork will be displayed online.

Image copyright Gaia Pope
Image caption The Pope family said art, particularly pyrography (woodburning), became a form of therapy for the teenager
Image copyright Pope family
Image caption Miss Pope's family and friends spontaneously produced a piece of artwork at the celebration of her life

Miss Pope, from Langton Matravers, near Swanage, made an allegation she was raped two years before her death.

Her family claimed an alleged failed police investigation "severely affected Gaia's mental and physical state".

Art, particularly pyrography (woodburning), became a form of therapy for the teenager, her family said.

Her mother Natasha Pope said: "I don't speak about my daughter in the past tense - I utter her name as I always have because I know she is still with me, every moment, in all we're doing.

"Gaia's art and poetry, inspired by the beauty of nature and the strength of femininity, is her way of connecting with her true self. In spite of all she's been through she is not defined by that.

Image copyright Pope family
Image caption The first piece of artwork sent to the family for the project has come from The United States

"Our Gaia would want to provide a forum for others to find their voice and create."

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Miss Pope's cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann added: "Some things are so big, run so deep, they can only be expressed through art. Our love and our grief for Gaia feels that way.

"The love we've felt from the community felt that way too. We want to honour that, make it visible, maybe do something to show other survivors, families who's lost someone too soon, that they are not alone."

Image caption Miss Pope's cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann said "we're hoping to get submissions of all kinds, from all kinds of people".

The family said the project was inspired by the #JusticeForLB social media campaign and want people to share their art on Twitter via #JusticeForGaia.

The #JusticeForLB campaign was set up by Dr Sara Ryan - the mother of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who had epilepsy and drowned in a bath after having a seizure in Oxford.

Dorset Police is being investigated over the way it handled the rape allegation and its response to Miss Pope's disappearance.

Image copyright Gaia Pope
Image caption Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November