Artists explore landscapes at the forefront of social change
Discover the work of contemporary artists who have explored how the landscapes we love brought people together to shape the history of our nation.
Jeremy Deller, Jarvis Cocker and Bob and Roberta Smith are among the artists helping us tell the stories of the men and women who passionately fought for the rights we cherish today.
We're hosting a programme of events and exhibitions, overseen by Turner-Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, to tell stories of four historic landscapes: Kinder Scout in Derbyshire, Tolpuddle in Dorset, Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey in Cheshire, and the Durham coast.
We commissioned the following artists to explore how communities connect with the history of these places today. These projects have been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and with additional support from Art Fund.
Amber at the Durham coast
The film and photography collective Amber explored the industrial past of villages along stretches of the Durham coastline that we care for. The land surrounding villages such as Easington, once home to the largest coal mine in Europe, has been shaped by major social and environmental change. The artists explored how local people connect with their past and produced work based on their memories and hopes for the future.
Jarvis Cocker, Kinder Scout
Artist and musician Jarvis Cocker designed and led a guided walk along a trespass route taken in April 1932 by protesters fighting for the freedom to roam. This peaceful protest eventually opened up public access to the countryside and inspired the creation of National Parks.Young people from nearby towns and cities followed Jarvis on a walk full of artistic surprises.
You'll be able to follow Jarvis' 'Be Kinder Trail' from 6 July to 15 September, 10am-4pm
Among the highlights you'll experience are: a phone box (Jeremy Deller/Fraser Muggeridge Studio) where visitors can dial up an audio recording about the trespassers; an art installation inspired by the work of novelist Jon McGregor; and a jukebox (artist Ruth Evans) playing songs related to mass trespass, including Ewan MacColl's The Manchester Rambler and two songs about people's land rights by performer Jennifer Reid.
INSTAR artists Trish Evans and Nick Humphreys have installed light boxes along the trail for you to experience and produced a limited edition of five bespoke back packer patches. These patches are inspired by the themes of caring for and having greater access to the natural world and protecting its future.
You can also download a recorded narrative from Jarvis to help you reflect on the surrounding landscape.
" The Kinder Scout trespassers put themselves on the line to get the law changed, giving everyone today the chance to walk around and get muddy at the weekend."
Bob and Roberta Smith at Tolpuddle, Dorset
Artist Bob and Roberta Smith ran workshops for people to paint pictures of the 300-year-old sycamore tree at Tolpuddle that symbolises the start of the trade union movement in Britain.
In 1833 six farm workers met under the branches of this tree to discuss poor wages and living conditions. They swore a secret oath to form a union but were later arrested and sentenced to seven years of penal labour in Australia. All six men were freed and pardoned after a mass public protest against their arrest, and were known as the 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'.
The paintings from the workshops were turned into placards. Bob and Roberta also worked with schools and community groups to consider who today’s ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’ are, and portraits of these people were painted on the backs of the placards.
Family of artists explore Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Gary Winters, his partner Grace Surman, and their two young children Hope and Merrick, are a family of artists. They've explored how the owners of Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey responded to the Peterloo Massacre, which claimed the lives of several people campaigning for parliamentary reform.
The family used video art and historical research to tell stories from both sides of the 1819 massacre, touching on ideas around rights and responsibilities, freedoms and the power to create change. You can see the artwork on display at both places and it will also form part of Peterloo 2019 - a special commemoration project led by Manchester Histories and the People's History Museum.
The projects above are part of People's Landscapes — a year-long programme of events and exhibitions inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre. In 1819, tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Field, Manchester to campaign for parliamentary reform.