WHEN Beningbrough Hall invited submissions for its Oh Wise Owl art trail, back came more than 80 responses and not all of them were sculptures for the outdoors.

Consequently, the National Trust country house at Beningbrough, near York, is now showing 20 pieces of artwork in the Hayloft gallery to add an indoor element to the 14 owl sculptures that have formed Beningbrough's first large-scale artistic trail since November, "hidden" in the trees, gardens and outbuildings.

On display until February 25 are paintings, photographs, pen and ink work. along with skull shields and a barn owl puppet, that complement the sculptures made from materials as diverse as felt, reused tyres and bronze, plus an intriguing sound installation.

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Soul Free, 2017, by Emma Abel. Picture: Matt Clark/National Trust

Together they add up to a glorious "celebration of these mysterious nocturnal creatures in a slightly different way at Beningbrough Hall, displayed simply, in harmony with nature", and open to the public in the winter opening hours of weekends only, plus the York half-term school holidays from February 13 to 16.

The 12 indoor artists show their love of owls and passion for nature using different media, ranging from Lauren Andrew's oil on linen canvas, Barn Owl At Dusk, gliding serenely on the evening air, to Sue Jordan's photograph, Baby Owl In The Aser at Beningbrough Hall; from Sharon Ross's mesmerising pen and ink studies of Great Horned Owls set against psychedelic vegetation, to Jeffrey Carter's Pygmy Owl In Sycamore Tree in gouache on paper; from Sally Bruce Richards's works in gold leaf and silver leaf, Meeting Posts and Owl Moon, to Emma Abel's Barn Owl faces in feathers.

Plenty of the artists were on hand at last Saturday's launch, and so too was Jennifer Weston, the daughter of Irene Firth, a Scarborough artist who is exhibiting for the first time at the age of 81 after a lifetime of painting for private pleasure. Jennifer submitted her mother's 2016 work Baby Owls, an oil painting of a family of baby Little Owls jostling for space on a branch, and the work was duly selected as Irene's first exhibit since her art college days in the 1950s. "This is my sneaky plan to get to her to exhibit from now on," says Jennifer.

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Scarborough artist Irene Firth's Baby Owls, 2016. Picture: Matt Clark/National Trust

Gareth Atkinson, an IT technician by day for North Yorkshire County Council in his home town of Northallerton, is a birdwatcher who takes photographs as one of his ways of addressing his anxiety attacks that have troubled him since late teenage days. "I've only got into photography over the last six years after struggling with anxiety," he says.

On show are two delightful photographs of Little Owls at dusk from 2017, Gatekeeper and A Little Stumped, and more of Gareth's work has featured in his wildlife calendars for CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, last year, and Young Minds, a mental health charity that deals with bullying, this year.

His fascination with owls was apparent as he passed on a tip on what dictates when one breed of owl will be out hunting by comparison with another. "It's said that owls with yellow eyes come out in the daytime; owls with orange eyes, like Little Owls, will be out at dusk and owls with dark eyes, like Barn Owls, come out at night," says Gareth.

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Great Horned Owl, 2015, by Sharon Ross. Picture: Matt Clark/National Trust

Borders artist June Bell's dreamland work in wax encaustic on board, Sylvan Myth, combines her great loves too. "I like painting figures, I love trees, and yes, I love owls, and this painting is just trying to capture the mystery of nature, the woodland...and you can see I'm influenced by Tolkien too!" she says of a work where one female figure emerges from the trunk of a tree, while a familiar silver-screen face has a Barn Owl's nest of eggs in her hair.

"Isn't that Cate Blanchett, June?", The Press asks. "It's based on her," she acknowledges..."though I'm not sure Barn Owls build nests like that to lay their eggs! But owls and trees go together so well and Barn Owls truly represent the wonderful mysteries of nature."

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June Bell with her painting Sylvan Myth, 2017. Picture: Matt Clark/National Trust

Should you be wondering what "wax encaustic" is, let June explain: "The painting technique involves beeswax, pigment and turpentine. When it sets, it sets like butter and I then apply it with a palette knife and add the fine detail in oil with a brush. So the hot wax goes on first, then the encaustic, then the oil paint."

The most unusual works are Howard Miller's tiny sculptures made from dissected owl pellets mounted on a shield as trophy heads. "I harvest the owl pellets from Bushy Park in Teddington – they're the size of a small sausage – and dismantle them to get enough unbroken mouse skulls to make the shields with the jawbones becoming antlers," he says.

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Owl Trophy 01, Tyto Alba, by Howard Miller. Picture: Matt Clark/National Trust

"Then I add a walnut veneer for the shield, mounted on bark as a backdrop for the owl's 'stately home', so it's the idea of an owl owning a stately home, going out hunting and then exhibiting the remains of its catch as a trophy " he says. "I went through 20 pellets to get enough unbroken bones and they have to be mouse bones as vole and shrew skulls tend not to survive intact."

Standing proudest of all is Ayse Rifat's Moshie, European Eagle Owl, a wonderful portrait in acrylic on a gesso panel. "Moshie belongs to a friend of mine who runs a birds of prey rescue centre in South Brent in Devon," says the London East Ender, who moved to the South West seven years ago. "Moshie has a six-foot wing span and talons bigger than my hands. He's majestic, very grand, very much 'I rule this falconry centre'."

Until February 25, in painting form, he rules the Beningbrough Hayloft too.

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Ayse Rifat with her painting 'Moshie' European Eagle Owl. Picture: Matt Clark/National Trust

Beningbrough Hall's programme of free activities for half-term

Owl Mask Trail: Self-led trail, every day February 10 to 18, except Monday.

Explorer Backpacks: Available every day from the hall between 11.30am and 3pm.

Artrageous!: Craft workshops making origami owls, February 13 and 15, 1pm to 3pm.

Stories Alive!: Storytelling with an owl theme in the hall, February 11 and 14, 11am to 3.30pm.

Owl walk: Join Mark, the gardener, on a walk through the parkland to discover more about owls and their habitats, February 16, 2pm to 3pm.

Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/beningbrough or call 01904 472027 for more details.