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Art in the Landscape, North Devon

Since the completion, in 2000, of the hugely successful ‘Art in the Travelling Landscape’ project that Northern Devon Coast & Countryside Service delivered in partnership with Sustrans where a number of artworks; benches, waymarkers and shelters were commissioned for the Tarka Trail from Barnstaple to Okehampton, we have been working on developing a series of projects under the ‘Art in the Landscape’ initiative.

The four projects are intended as pilots that serve to demonstrate what can be achieved and what is possible when the arts are used as a tool within the context of rural regeneration.

viewing places - imageVelator Wetland Project is primarily about people, access and understanding. The site, owned by the Environment Agency has until now been closed to the public. In partnership with the EA we developed a project that involved appointing the artist and architect team, San facon, to realise three very distinct viewing places and spaces, allowing people to look at and experience the wetland site. The artists responded to our desire to use the experience of being on the site as a way of understanding not only the immediate environment but also the wider surrounding environment including the biosphere reserve and to work with the environment and not against it. Nature conservation on the site was a major consideration for the artists to work with. The community aspect to the work has been essential and the local secondary and primary schools have both been involved in developing projects around the Wetland site. This has also led to the production of a teachers resource pack enabling and encouraging teachers to use the site across the curriculum subjects.

Northern Devon Coast & Countryside Service - imageThe project at Slade Reservoir, Moth Black, is about demonstrating how the arts can be used to enhance a place, adding that little bit extra. On the site of a newly created permissive path, artist, Phil Power has created a kissing gate, style and stone wall constructed seating area. Embedded in the path as you climb up to the higher reservoir are solar powered lights that animate your journey and trees have been planted to delineate your intended path.

waymarkers - imageThe fourth pilot project is possibly the most challenging in terms of the technology involved. Working with young people from Braunton Community College and Youth Club, artist Kirsty Waterworth, has developed a series of waymarkers that sit proudly along a section of the cycleway running in to Braunton. These columns of steel house LED displays which have running text on them written by the young people. The text is intended to animate your journey along the cyclepath, taking you on a narrative as well as physical journey.

These projects demonstrate how the arts can be used as a tool to tackle a whole range of issues in relation to regenerating and understanding our environment and the communities that inhabit it.