Up North, we’re kind of spoilt when it comes to nature (among much else). After all, there’s England’s largest National Park – The Lake District – sat just on our doorstep; brimming with beauty, the old stomping-ground of Wordsworth, Coleridge et al., and (as of July 2017) a World Heritage Site to boot. But in case you needed any more convincing to dust of your walking shoes and jump on a train, there’s also a region-wide programme of brand-new contemporary art commissions to check out this spring/summer as part of Lakes Ignite 2018.
Spanning performance, sculpture and virtual reality, the six diverse artworks all respond to the Lake District’s rich cultural landscape (for which the World Heritage status was awarded) in different ways, inviting a fresh perspective on the world around us.
Among the commissions currently open to the public, Michael Shaw’s Slung takes the form of a large, fluorescent pink and orange striped inflatable at Mountain Hall arts space in Rheged, which carries a mild flavour of Dr Seuss, and hints of the Cheshire cat. Brian and George Fell’s Arctic Char at The Ambleside Salutation Hotel is a father-son collaboration depicting a shoal of Arctic Char (a type of fish that has resided in the Lakes since the Ice Age). The Ordinance Pavilion by Liverpool/London based art, architecture and design collective Studio MUTT at Wainwrights’ Inn (Great Langdale) is an interactive, semi-inhabitable sculpture that explores the impact that mapping has had on our human and cultural interaction with the landscape. And Charlie Whinney’ Mountains We Made at Grizedale Forest entwines ten steam bent sections of sustainably sourced oak.
Of the works open from May onwards, we’re looking forward to peering through Di Mainstone’s large, tessellated funnel; Time Mirror at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House (overlooking Lake Windermere), which will provide an abstract, experimental view of the Lakes. And encountering The Buried Moon by The Strange Names Collective at The University of Cumbria (Ambleside); a three-part, multi-disciplinary project that will use VR, drone footage and performance to dig deep into the mysterious interior of the earth.
As diverse as the six works may seem, all are united around a shared interest in three core themes: How our past interactions with the Lakes have shaped the way we view it today; how the region has inspired, and continues to inspire, artists, writers and visitors; and lastly, the importance of conserving this great landscape for generations to come.
Note: the six commissions are each located across six different venues – Rheged; Langdale Estates; Ambleside Salutation Hotel and Spa; University of Cumbria, Ambleside campus; Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House; and Grizedale Forest.