South Pennines Landscape inspires deep connections with two artists as they prepare for their joint exhibition

Posted: 24.09.11

As two artists prepare their work for the Inspired by Landscape: II exhibition to be launched at Cliffe Castle, Keighley, on September 24, they have both been struck by the deep sense of connection they feel to the South Pennine landscape.

Although visual artist, Angie Rogers, and writer, Char March, the Watershed Landscape year two artists in residence, work independently and in different media there are similarities between their approaches: both have a healthy respect for the open moorland, which they recognise as beautiful but at the same time austere, challenging and often dangerous; and both are fascinated by the macro and micro levels found on the uplands.

The exhibition is part of the three-year Watershed Landscape project, Inspired by Landscape, initiated by the regeneration organisation, Pennine Prospects, providing three artists and two writers 40 day residencies to develop their own work and to encourage others to explore and enjoy the uplands of the South Pennines. Angie and Char’s work follows on from that of artist Sally Barker and poet Andrew McMillan.

Char has made her name as a writer of poetry, radio plays and screen-writing but she started her career with a science degree, which has helped her connect to the micro aspects of the moors: the mosses and lichens. But the moors still offer challenges to Char, who has a deep respect for them.

“I don’t feel that comfortable with the moors so I was interested to see if I could connect with them; it’s been a challenge but one I’ve found inspiring. It’s been fantastic to explore the landscape with so many different people, from a 97-year-old lady and her fellow residents in sheltered accommodation to a group of teenage skateboarders,” explained Char, who has produced a film, sound-scape, listening
posts and a banner of her written work, despite having her ankle in plaster most of the summer following a fall in July.

“As part of the film we took a group of students from Thorn Park Deaf School in Bradford up on to the moors to fly kites. For most of them it was the first time they’d ever been and it was great to see their imaginations flying; they were all signing away so fast; it was terrific.”

As Char’s work brings to life the moors through word, sound and film, so does Angie’s through three large, 8ft by 5ft, charcoal drawings, and an Enfolding Landscape print book, bringing together over 40 sheets of A2 woodcut printed images of cotton grass and rippling water. Taking her inspiration from the reservoirs Angie has a particular interest in the unusual architecture of the valve towers found on many.

“Creating such large pieces for this exhibition has been physically demanding work and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. Hopefully it will encourage more people to go out on the moors and to enjoy the upland reservoirs.
“I’ve been out on the moors with the Outdoor Art Group, which I set up at the beginning of my residency, and art students from the Titus Salt School. I’ve been very impressed with the work produced by everyone,” explained Angie, who shares her experiences in her project blog, as does Char.

Admission to the exhibition, which runs from September 24 to January 15, is free and the gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sundays noon to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays. Both artists will be involved in a number of activities at the gallery over the life-time of the exhibition, including workshops in October and December.

Anna Marshall, Watershed Landscape project co-ordinator, was delighted with the exhibition: “The fantastic work that the artists and writers have been doing has enabled us to reach new groups who may have never before visited the moorland right on their doorstep.

“People who may feel that traditional outdoor activities like hiking or cycling are not for them, have been encouraged by the artists to use the landscape in different ways; as inspiration for art work, craft activities, writing and for family days out.

“We hope that this part of the project has helped people feel more confident about using and enjoying this beautiful landscape.”

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust