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Arts

An enigmatic stone chamber and a Viking inspired seafaring vessel set to become permanent fixtures

The vast, open views, big skies and long horizons, rich heritage and nature of Morecambe Bay inspire a series of new, public artworks and events, which complement, capture and distil experiences of one of the UK’s most distinct coastal regions. Headlands to Headspace, a series of sculptural and performance landscape arts commissions, are to be unveiled between September 2018 – March 2019. The selected artists and works have been announced by Morecambe Bay Partnership during the 2018 Festival of the Bay cultural programme, revealing plans for two, permanent sculptures in the Bay and a temporary installation opening from Sat 1 September 2018.

Internationally-renowned land artist, Chris Drury is one of the artists invited to make a permanent mark, with Horizon Line Chamber, a stone architectural sculpture planned for Sunderland Point, offering both a new site of indelible curiosity and a distinct experience within its conical walls. Looking out to sea, the building will feature an in-built lens, through which an image of the changing marine landscape is projected for the viewer inside. At another location artist, Anna Gillespie designs an historically evocative sculpture of two figures counterbalancing a seafaring structure, referencing the region’s strong Viking heritage, the ever-shifting experience of both landscape and seascape and the Bay’s continuing role as a point of departure and arrival.

The artistic responses to Morecambe Bay are completed with temporary installations of mirrored, landscape and sky-reflecting structural sculptures from Rob Mulholland, unveiled at The Barrows, Heysham Coast (1 – 9 Sep), before touring to Birkrigg Common (15 Sep – 30 Sep), and must-see, site-specific dance performances at Silverdale in the Bay’s evolving, early-evening twilight by choreographers, Jenny Reeves and Ellen Jeffrey (Thu 27 – Sat 29 Sep).

Susannah Bleakley, Chief Executive of Morecambe Bay Partnership, says: “Morecambe Bay is a magical place, elemental and inspiring. We’ve carried out a whole range of activities over the past five years to celebrate, conserve and connect Morecambe Bay and our communities. Hundreds of people have volunteered and thousands have taken part in events. Through this we’ve explored what local people think is special about the Bay and they told us they are captivated by the constant change – how the Bay is made and remade by the tides and reflects the ever changing sky and elements. They value the views, the birds and other wildlife and how the Bay connects us through the sea to the wider world. These artists’ commissions seek to reflect these special facets back to us and help us gain fresh inspiration and look anew at our ever-changing Bay.”

Making a call out to artists for ideas during 2017, the Headlands to Headspace commissions – being produced in partnership with Morecambe-based arts and festivals practice, Deco Publique – asked for creatives to consider all facets of Morecambe Bay’s distinct characteristics, including the region’s local heritage, natural beauty, tidal patterns, migratory bird populations and behaviours and native flora and fauna. In awarding each artist the opportunity to create new work in the landscape, the suitability of each project in the environment and the potential legacy for Morecambe Bay’s communities sat at the heart of the selection process.

Details of the successful artists and awarded commissions are as follows, for full details and booking information where relevant, please visit https://www.morecambebay.org.uk/news/landscape-art-commissions

Settlement, Sculpture – Rob Mulholland at The Barrows, Heysham Coast (Sat 1 – Sun 9 Sep) & Birkrigg Common (Sat 15 Sep – Sun 30 Sep)

Rob Mulholland Settlement

British sculptor and environmental artist Rob Mulholland develops a series of mirrored dwellings to be temporarily installed on both Birkrigg Common and on The Barrows, Heysham Coast. Inspired by early Anglo-Saxon designs, the dwellings aim to encourage viewers to consider the influence of people of the past on Morecambe Bay. Six mirrored human-shaped figures complete the idea of the structures and sites as places as human settlement, reminding the viewer of the people working the land and the sea in centuries gone by. By using mirrored surfaces Mulholland brings literal reflection into being, making the viewer and a distorted landscape and sky integral parts of the work. By catching glimpses of themselves, viewers see an image not only in the present, but a hint of those who may have walked in the same landscape in the past.

Longways / Crosswise, Immersive Performance – Jenny Reeves and Ellen Jeffrey at The Lots, Silverdale (Thu 27 – Sat 29 Sep, 6pm)

An immersive, site-specific dance performance taking place on the coastline of the pretty village of Silverdale, Longways / Crosswise is inspired by David Cox’s provocative paintings of the crossings of Lancaster Sands made during the 19th century. A cast of professional dancers and participants from the local community re-imagine the stories and tales of those that once crossed the sands in the last of the light, making a precarious journey between Lancaster and Ulverston in the pre-railway age. Commencing just before sunset, together the audience and performers will witness the phenomenal, natural transformation of the Bay at day’s end. The dancers’ movements will trace the folds of the sand and the flow of the tide, dancing the ridges and ripples of the Bay’s unique, ever-changing landscape, creating a tangible, lived encounter with the shifting, sifting world of Morecambe Bay. Booking is essential – visit https://www.morecambebay.org.uk/events/longways-and-crosswise-dance for full details.

Horizon Line Chamber, Sculpture – Chris Drury at Sunderland Point (completion Winter 2018/Spring 2019 – subject to planning permission)
All aspects of Morecambe Bay’s landscape, not limited to the sea, the changing light, bird, animal and human life will each play a starring role in Horizon Line Chamber, a permanent installation at the historic, former port settlement of Sunderland Point. In its construction from hundreds of reclaimed building stones and built with the help of a Lancastrian Master Craftsman and Stone Mason, Andrew Mason, the chamber will conceal its true purpose as a self-contained projector for the world outside. A lens built into the sea-facing wall turns this small oratory, shaped like an upturned boat, into a camera obscura. In effect projecting an ever-changing, upside-down and divided circle (sea and sky) onto the white plastered interior wall. Horizon Line Chamber brings the latest in Drury’s ‘cloud chamber’ series to Lancashire, having installed sibling structures around the world, including examples responding to  local conditions and using close-to-hand materials in Nashville, Dublin and Okawa, Japan.

SHIP, Sculpture – Anna Gillespie location to be confirmed (anticipated completion Mar 2019 – subject to planning permission)

Anna Gillespie’s new, permanent sculpture for Morecambe Bay becomes simultaneously a welcoming beacon and a symbol of fond farewell at a traditional point of departure and arrival. Purposely crafted to be of no clear historic reference, yet making overt reference to the Viking longboats of former Bay dwellers, the evidently seafaring structure marks the boundary of land and sea. The two, accompanying ‘boatmen’ figures look forward and back, a reference to both the nature of any journey and the inevitable changes in Morecambe Bay’s landscape, population and industrial heritage, where fishing and shipping sit side-by-side with the contemporary influence of nuclear power. The sculpture will offer viewers the chance to stop and reflect, continuing the Bay’s ancient traditions as a place of retreat, spiritual reflection and pilgrimage.

Additionally, storyteller Emily Hennessey was commissioned to create new storytelling walks at Arnside Knott and Birkrigg Common, which went ahead earlier in summer 2018. In just one example of Headlands to Headspace legacy, the stories that told of the epic nature of the Bay will be captured for current and future generations to enjoy by illustrator, Nina Blychart Wisnia, with an entirely original publication of drawings based on the walks due for release in the autumn.

Each of the new commissions provide both residents and visitors around Morecambe Bay the opportunity to engage with the ideas connected with each through events and workshops, including artist talks, workshops and a large scale, triple-spiral sand drawing. For information about all future events connected with the programme visit: https://www.morecambebay.org.uk/news/landscape-art-commissions

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