Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lakes and Dales 500sq mile Expansion

Visitors to two of England’s finest national parks are a step closer to having more to explore after recommendations to extend the boundaries of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales - which will increase their combined area by nearly 500sq kms - have been passed to Government for approval.

If the Secretary of State confirms the changes being recommended by Natural England it will represent the most significant addition to England’s National Parks since the confirmation of the South Downs in 2009.

After years of face-to-face and online consultations communities either side of the M6 artery that have until now sat outside both boundaries are a step closer to joining their near neighbours after over two thirds of those surveyed said were in favour of extending the National Parks.

The proposed variation to the Yorkshire Dales National Park will include:

to the north, parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang; and
to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, the River Lune and, part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the river.

The proposed variation to the Lake District National Park will include:

to the east, an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common; and
to the south an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, and part of the Lyth Valley.

David Butterworth, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority chief executive, added: “The farmers and landowners who, for generations, have lived and worked in these places have helped create the great natural beauty and many special qualities that visitors enjoy today – and that make the areas worthy of National Park status. 

“We believe these areas have many unifying features and characteristics such as the Settle Carlisle line, limestone pavements and hay meadows, as well as similar community issues such as affordable housing, access to services and sustainable communities – issues that resonate with the existing National Park.   

“As part of this process, Natural England has undertaken extensive consultation and we are delighted that it shows that the majority of residents who responded are enthusiastic about the proposals and recognise the many and varied benefits that designation will bring.

“It’s a real victory for common sense in looking at National Park boundaries in terms of the quality of the landscape rather than outmoded and short-term administrative or political issues.”

Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England said: “The Board’s decision to proceed towards the designation of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks is the result of many years of detailed assessment work and public consultation. It represents an important opportunity to ensure that these special landscapes are looked after for future generations to enjoy.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Picasso and Da Vinci in residence to regenerate Rotherham

Picasso and pals to star in Rotherham

Rotherham, whose recent headline grabbing initiatives include mums defying Jamie Oliver’s healthy eating regime by selling fast food through the school railings, is shrugging off its junk food associations and moving into the art world by re-launching itself as an open air gallery.

The south Yorkshire town is undergoing a visual transformation as over 60 pieces of artwork by local, national and world renowned artists are being reproduced on a grand scale – some 4m by 8m – and displayed on the side of buildings in over 35 town centre locations. Plans are for the gallery to be in place for a number of years with art trails being distributed in the local tourism information centre.

The initiative is the brainchild of the local business community who wanted to encourage more visitors to Rotherham to help regenerate the town centre and drive the local economy. A similar scheme ran in York a few years ago to critical acclaim.

The first installations from local artists have been going up this week and will sit alongside famous works by Picasso, Da Vinci, Cezanne, Castleford's-own Henry Moore, Van Gogh and Rousseau as well as works by local schools.

Nick Cragg, local entrepreneur and chair of the Rotherham Economy Board, who is spearheading the project, said: “Rotherham will be one of the first towns in the UK to have its own open air art gallery which is fantastic news and will help to play an important part in its regeneration and further economic growth. The pieces have been carefully selected so that we could exhibit works of world renowned masters, whilst providing a platform for Rotherham’s own artists, as well as local young people to display their work.”

He added: “Like all good galleries, this one will evolve and we hope to add new artwork in spring next year, with the project having secured funding to run for at least 18 months. We are hoping further private sponsorship will mean it can run for many years to come.”

The organisers have already partnered with some heavyweight art allies, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Gallery up the road in neighbouring Bretton and Wakefield as well as the National Gallery and will consult with the public on what other pieces of artwork local people would like to see reproduced when the display is reviewed and updated in spring next year.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Yorkshire prepares to reclaim Hockney

Hockney's six canvas Woldgate Woods in East Yorkshire

Bradford-born David Hockney is synonymous with Los Angeles and sunny California but all that is about to change as a new exhibition of his landscape paintings reclaims him for the county of his birth, Yorkshire.

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture opens in January at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and Hockney hopes the collection of new work, the majority of which has been painted in East Yorkshire where he lives when he is not in the Hollywood Hills, will be as iconic for Yorkshire as his infamous swimming pool paintings were for Los Angeles in the 1960s.

He said: “It’s a landscape I know from my childhood, it has meaning to me, but I never thought of it as a subject matter until 10 years ago when I realised, for me at my age, it was a terrific subject, a marvellous place.”

Adding: “It’s a lovely bit of England still, not spoilt very much.”

Over 150 works will be shown across the Royal Academy’s Main Galleries, including sketches, ipad drawings, video installations and giant paintings that span the width of the walls.

Such has been quality of the body of work produced that one of that exhibition’s curators Edith Devaney from the Royal Academy predicts Hockney will become forever associated with East Yorkshire just as fellow painter John Constable is with Suffolk.

Hockney makes for an unlikely tourism ambassador. He shot to fame as a leading light in the British Pop Art movement in the 1960s and moved to southern California shortly afterwards. He doesn’t like crowds of people, which is why the solitude of the Yorkshire Wolds is so appealing to him. The thought of a surge of tourists heading to Yorkshire to see the places depicted in his paintings fills him with a slight dread and yet the global attention this exhibition is bound to generate is almost guaranteed to attract art lovers from across the world to discover Hockney’s Yorkshire.

They’d be advised to set aside a few days as his influence spans the width of the county. He was born in the west and studied art at Bradford; Salts Mill in Saltaire still houses one of the finest collections of his work in the world, one he constantly adds to and updates. In the east, locations in the Yorkshire Wolds such as Kilham, Garrowby Hill and Thixendale are about to put on the map by the new exhibition, as will Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast, where he lives when he is not in California, and of which he said:

“I’ve been going to Bridlington for a long time I’ve spent over 30 Christmasses there [at the home of his mother and sister] and I never stayed in the winter that much as I thought it was too cold and too dark but the first time I did, I realised how beautiful the winter was, it was not black or white, it was not grey, in fact sometimes there was more colour than the summer.”

Hockney said he hoped that when the exhibition opened in January it would open people’s eyes to the beauty of spring and encourage people to look more at their changing surroundings. He might not like it very much but the exhibition might also result in him having to share his beloved East Yorkshire with more people than he is used to as the county reclaims one of its most famous sons.

The exhibition will run at the Royal Academy from 21 January 2012 to 9 April 2012.