Monthly Archives: March 2012

Local Children help Artists on Preston’s new Greenway

The Preston to Bamber Bridge Greenway has seen additional development over the last few weeks through the installation of three sculptures. Commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts, artists Martin Maudsley and John Packer developed a creative engagement programme that engaged the local communities and school children surrounding the Greenway through workshops and events which took place last year.

Two of the sculptures are educational pieces based on train couplings, reflecting the history of the area. These have been engraved with poetry from the children who participated in the school engagement programme, led by artist Martin Maudsley. The children from St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary and Middleforth C of E Primary School, spent time on the Greenway discovering natural and historical elements of the site through sensory walks and collecting objects for drawing. The poetry was a result of their experiences and what the Greenway meant to them. The pieces have magnifying and fish eye lenses incorporated into the couplings to allow the surroundings to be viewed more closely.

The third sculpture took the form of seating. With the aid of artist John Packer, pupils from Lostock Hall Community High School & Arts College interpreted the ideas of the primary school children and developed them into designs. The end result was seating based loosely on leaf designs.

All three pieces have been built by John and can be found along the main route into Preston and around the Whitehouse Junction Nature Reserve area of the Greenway. The main access points of the Greenway are Avenham Park, Leyland Road opposite the fire station and Factory Lane after the junction with Old Tram Road.

Development of the Greenway initially began in 2010 and saw the disused railway line turned into a multi user Greenway suitable for walking and cycling. The area was surfaced creating a path suitable for outdoor activities and the route, which is open to the public, now forms part of the National Cycle Network.

Helen Yates, Mid Pennine Arts Community and Projects Officer said, “These sculptures add to the offering of the Greenway making it an even more exciting and inviting place to spend the afternoon walking and cycling. It will also encourage schools to use the Greenway as a new learning environment.”

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Brockholes is the Art of Destination.

Lancashire’s new wetland centre, Brockholes, which opened last year as a haven for birds and wildlife, is set to attract a different type of visitor this month. For one day, Brockholes will host Art of Destination, a unique conference event that aims to stimulate and inspire by exploring a range of exciting creative projects.

Art of Destination brings together projects that take derelict or unregarded space and transform it into somewhere special – new community assets, new kinds of visitor attraction, or ‘destination art’. Brockholes itself is a prime example – centred on a spectacular floating village of ecobuildings that were commissioned from an international design competition.

And Brockholes will have a unique look for the day, with an eye-popping temporary installation on site, specially commissioned from international artist Steve Messam.

Sneak peak of the temporary installation by Steve Messam which can be seen at Brockholes at the conference

The event, organised by Mid Pennine Arts in collaboration with Lancashire County Council, will showcase partnership work in the County, highlighting the European award winning Padiham Greenway programme alongside high profile, inspiring case studies from the region, the UK and beyond.

Guest speakers will include French artist Marco Dessardo, the London architecture collective Assemble and specialists from Liverpool Biennial, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Grizedale Forest. Commissioned artist Steve Messam will also be contributing to the debate, in spite of the small inconvenience that, on the day, he will be based at a studio in Shanghai! Steve’s installation on the site will be accessible to Brockholes visitors, on the day itself and right through to Easter weekend.

Art of Destination takes place on Thursday 29 March and will be introduced by County Councillor Kevin Ellard, Chair of Lancashire County Council Arts Task Group. The day is aimed at arts specialists and enthusiasts, as well as professionals in environment, regeneration and public realm, education and public policy.

For more information visit www.midpenninearts.org.uk/art-of-destination

Tickets are available through eventbrite www.artofdestination.eventbrite.co.uk

Popular Sound Installation Extended throughout Anniversary Celebrations.

We are delighted to announce that we have been invited by Lancashire County Council to extend TAKEN, the sound installation in Clitheroe Castle Keep by contemporary classical composer Ailís Ni RíainOriginally the installation was due to close on the 9 April 2012, but TAKEN can now be experienced until the 3 June 2012.

TAKEN, inspired by the plight of the individuals accused of witchcraft in 1612, evokes the voices in the last days and nights of the twelve accused.  Held captive in a dark, dank, cramped airless cell that measured just 20 by 12 feet, one of the accused died awaiting trial while others began to suffer psychologically in the appalling conditions.  We can only begin to imagine the absolute terror, fear and sadness experienced.  And maybe for some, the final defiance and peace found through good memories and hope for the next life.  The effect inside the space is unrelenting, your imagination not letting you escape the voices of the accused. Some visitors have described it as unsettling, haunting and eerie.

The second experience of TAKEN is from the outside, where you can walk around the Keep on an elevated walkway and at ground level.  This was a deliberate decision on Ailís’s part.  “I was not content with the music simply wafting out and being carried off by the wind so we ensured that speakers were cunningly concealed around the Keep to ensure that the music carries. The visitor has the experience of being a voyeur, aware of people being held captive in the Keep, hearing them humming, however now at a comfortable distance, as the music is mixed with the sounds of the everyday world continuing to spin, spin, spin and they can walk away from the wrongly accused…”

To create her sound installation, Ailís worked with 12 local people.  The ‘hummers’ spent their time together with Ailís, understanding her work as a composer and how she creates her music.  Each person hummed a song that had a personal poignancy to them which became part of the installation.

Ailís said, “I am very pleased that TAKEN at Clitheroe Castle has been extended to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the trial of the Lancashire Witches.  It provides us with the ideal opportunity to take some time and remember those whose lives were taken from them based on inference, inaccuracies, and misinformation and perhaps for simply being different.  The incarceration, trial and hanging of the Lancashire Witches was a travesty, one which has many contemporary resonances. It is important to remember in order not to forget.”

With the 400th Anniversary of the Lancashire Witches upon us, this is the perfect opportunity to experience this thought provoking installation.  TAKEN will continue to run until the 3 June 2012. Immerse yourself in sound and thought as the Keep is brought to life through music.  Free entry to the keep.

TAKEN was commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts in collaboration with Lancashire County Council.

TAKEN is part of A Contemporary Heritage: new way of seeing, Mid Pennine Arts’ ambitious partnership programme of contemporary art commissions at some of Lancashire’s most colourful and intriguing historic venues.  The commissions, inspired by Lancashire’s heritage, animate each site and offer visitors a rare chance to experience major works of art by artists of national and international standing outside urban areas.

New York, New York!

MPA’s Melanie tells us about her Art of Destination.

Many of us have enjoyed visiting greenways, those havens for walkers, cyclists and riders created from abandon railway tracks, but how about a greenway in the sky?  That is the basic premise of the High Line in New York, a 1.45 mile long public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.  Founded in 1999 it is owned by the City and maintained and operated by a Friends group and I’ve been itching to visit it ever since I first read about it.  As well as the plant life, which is reminiscent of the self-seeded landscape and wild plantings that once grew on the unused High Line, long narrow ‘planks’  form a smooth virtually seamless walking surface.   There are special features, including viewing platforms, a water feature, a sundeck and gathering areas to be used for performances, art exhibitions and educational programmes.  My particular desire is to view some of the innovative public art programme.  Just imagine being high above the streets of Manhattan, with views over the Hudson and the city skyline, walking in a beautiful natural environment created out of something so industrial and then coming across a piece of cutting edge contemporary art.  I can’t wait to visit New York to experience this for myself and I’m saving like mad to do it before the end of June so that I can experience Sarah Sze’s intricate installation Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat). 

What is your Art of Destination?