A lesser-known stretch of England’s rugged north-west coast has served as the inspiration for a new public arts commission programme, announced today, which will launch in Spring 2023.
The project is called Deep Time: Quests for the Lake District Coast and draws on the varied landscape and rich heritage of West Cumbria, its people and places.
Part of a wider coastal improvement project to bring the spotlight to this largely undiscovered stretch of coast. deep time was commissioned by Copeland Borough Council and is funded by the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund, Sellafield Ltd’s Six Social Impact program and the Arts Council England.
This new arts program features new artworks to be installed in coastal locations between the iron ore landscapes of Millom to the south and the Georgian seaside town of Whitehaven to the north. This includes:
– Six new permanent site-specific art commissions from artists Martin Boyce, Marcus Coates, Ryan Gander, Atelier Van Lieshout, Susan Philipsz and Elena Popova.
– An exhibition of four design proposals for a significant landmark by Copeland by Olafur Eliasson with Robert Macfarlane; Rachel Whiteread; Roger Hiorns with Tom Emerson (6A); and Piet Oudolf with Thomas Piper, Nicolas Becker, Emanuele Coccia, AMI / Elena Hill (Artist Moving Image) and vPPR Architects at the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven and Windermere Jetty Museum from September 2022.
– Five new author assignments from Kate Davis, Issi Nanabeyin, Himali Singh Soin, Richard Skelton and Ruth Sutton.
– A public engagement program supported by Arts Council England including three artist residencies hosted by the CNPPA (Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas) to embed artists in Copeland with artists Alistair Debling, Jamie Jenkinson and Cristina Picchi.
– A curated program by Artworks and moving images at sights and places on the west coast of Cumbria in Spring 2023.
– A Opening program at the weekend of performances, screenings and events in spring 2023.
deep time builds on and celebrates the rich and varied terrain of West Cumbria, bringing artists into dialogue with its ecology, history, industry and rugged beauty. The Lake District National Park meets the Irish Sea in this dynamic landscape, constantly changing with the tides, light and weather.
The program draws on ideas of the time prompted by the area’s long association with geological and mineral exploration. Copeland is home to the world’s first underwater mine, deposits of alabaster and gypsum and – most notably – an abundance of iron ore which gives the landscape its distinctive red hue.
Although this area is home to four valleys in the Lake District, alongside England’s deepest lake (Wastwater) and its highest mountain (Scafell Pike), it is much more than just lochs and fells. The towering red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head are the only area of high sea cliffs in the North West and home to one of the largest seabird colonies on England’s west coast. The seaside village of Ravenglass has the rare distinction of being in two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Hadrian’s Wall and Lake District National Park) and Drigg is a 1000 acre area of internationally important sand dunes. Meanwhile, the majestic peak of Black Combe towers over a patchwork of farmland and sandy beaches including Silecroft and Haverigg.
This coast has been portrayed by artists and writers for centuries; in particular Whitehaven with its impressive Georgian architecture and rich history of shipbuilding, seafaring and trade. JMW Turner has worked at Duddon Sands and Whitehaven, as have Alfred Heaton Cooper and William Heaton Cooper. Millom’s iron ore landscapes were also the inspiration and home of Norman Nicolson, the area’s best-known poet.
All of the deep time Project artists have spent time in Cumbria to develop new works that actively reflect aspects of the landscape, people and place, including trips to the iconic Sellafield nuclear facility. Sellafield – which has been in the process of decommissioning for about 100 years – is raising debates about the role of nuclear power in a post-carbon and post-nuclear society alongside climate change and renewable energy.
As part of today’s announcement DeepTimes location specific Artists of the Coastal Commissions are revealed as:
– Martin Boyc is a Turner Prize-winning artist. He has worked with Edinburgh based architects Konishi Gaffney about the design of a new building for Silecroft Beach overlooked by the imposing Black Combe fell.
– Markus Coates works in the ecologically rich area of Drigg and Ravenglass near Muncaster Castle. This area encompasses over 1000 hectares of dunes which are home to the rare natterjack toad.
– Ryan Gander OBE RA was commissioned to create a sculpture that comments on time as a new currency and how we as a society may need to move from the accelerated growth of capitalism to a more instinctive rhythm of the ecosystems in which we live
have always lived.
– Studio van Lieshout was inspired by the area peasant culture. He creates a new architectural space for the public to take a break from the weather and a tranquil space for farmers to use as an outdoor office.
– Susan Philipsz is a Turner Prize winner who has worked with the Port Commissioners of Whitehaven to develop a new piece of art that pays homage to the Georgian town’s seafaring past, including its role as a key port for the rum trade.
– Elena Popova originally trained as a theater designer and has been researching the history of textile production in the region ever since. Work with Whitehaven’s Solway Hallshe creates a huge textile work of art that will serve as a backdrop for performances and celebrations.
In response to the announcement, Copeland Mayor-elect Mike Starkie said: “There are already many reasons to visit Copeland and we have a vibrant arts scene. Our stunning coastline is the perfect place to inspire creativity. And now, by commissioning this project, we’re offering artists a way to shine the spotlight on our hidden gem.
“The wide range of projects showcases what we have to offer and celebrate here – the art will be inspired by everything from our World Heritage sites to our status as an international leader in the nuclear industry. Next spring will be an incredibly exciting time and I look forward to seeing residents and visitors enjoying it all deep time projects.”
deep time was developed by curator and producer Aldo Rinaldi. He commented: “It was wonderful to spend time exploring the west coast of Cumbria with the artists and writers involved deep time. Creatives have been visiting this area for centuries to experience and display its diverse landscape, culture and people.
“The resulting site-specific artworks are a direct result of these ‘place’ experiences. From its lost textile industry to its iconic nuclear status to its UNESCO World Heritage Site and Flora artists are adept at getting under the skin of a place and letting us see things in new ways. I look forward to sharing their ideas with the public in the coming year.”
Minister for Leveling Up, Union and Constitution Neil O’Brien MP added: “With support of over £1m from the Coastal Communities Fund, this project will help Cumbria realize its full economic potential with new visitor facilities and sustainable employment opportunities for local people. By investing in ambitious projects like this, we are improving communities across the country, boosting tourism and helping communities recover better from the pandemic.”
deep time is part of a wider coastal improvement project called Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast Program (CCHC). Other key elements under the direction of Copeland Borough Council include the improvement of the River Irt crossing with Natural England, footpath and route improvements for walkers and cyclists, new signage and interpretation, and a major new building on Silecroft Beach.
For more information about deep timevisit: www.deeptime.uk