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Copeland Borough Council presents Deep Time: Commissions for the Lake District Coast

Launching Spring 2023

A recently announced public art commissions program that debuts in early 2023 draws inspiration from a lesser-known section of England’s untamed North West coast. Deep Time—Commissions for the Lake District Coast brings artists into direct contact with the geology, ecology, industry, and rugged beauty of West Cumbria, celebrating the region’s diverse landscape and rich past.

Deep Time: curatorial concept
The program investigates the point at where the Lake District National Park and the Irish Sea converge, utilizing conceptions of time suggested by the region’s extensive history of geological and mineral investigation. The first submarine mine in the world, alabaster and gypsum deposits, and—most significantly—a profusion of iron ore give the region its unique red color.

This region is much more than just lakes and fells, even though it is home to four Lake District valleys, England’s deepest lake (Wastwater), and its tallest mountain (Scafell Pike). Artists and poets have portrayed this coastline for ages, especially Whitehaven, with its stunning Georgian architecture and illustrious maritime and commercial history.

The project is a vital component of the Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast Initiative and was commissioned by Copeland Borough Council. It is financed by the Coastal Communities Fund of HM Government, Sellafield Ltd.’s Six Social Impact multiplied program, and Arts Council of England (CCHC).

Deep Time: public commissions

Between the iron ore landscapes of Millom to the south and the port city Whitehaven to the north, along the coast, are six new site-specific artwork commissions by artists that are part of the Deep Time program.

Martin Boyce of Glasgow, United Kingdom, has been collaborating with the eminent Black Combe fall and the Edinburgh-based architects Konishi Gaffney on the design of a new structure for Silecroft beach in the south. Near Muncaster Castle, in the biologically diverse Drigg and Ravenglass region, Marcus Coates (of London, UK) has been working. The unique Natterjack Toad lives in the roughly 1000 acres of dunes in this region.

Susan Philipsz (Glasgow, UK) has been collaborating with Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners to create a new piece of art in the North, drawing inspiration from the seafaring history of the Georgian town, notably its significance as a port for the rum trade. Yelena Popova (Urals, Russia) has been researching the region’s textile production history and has been collaborating with Whitehaven’s Solway Hall to create a big textile artwork that will serve as a backdrop for a performance and celebration.

Atelier van Lieshout (Rotterdam, Netherlands) has drawn inspiration from the farming lifestyle of the region along the shore. He is constructing a fresh architectural setting where the general public can find shelter from the elements. In order to comment on time as a new currency and how, perhaps, society needs to move away from the fast growth of capitalism, to a more instinctual rhythm of the eco-systems in which we have always lived, Ryan Gander OBE RA (Chester, UK) has been commissioned to construct a sculpture.

Additionally, five new writers who have individually responded to the West Cumbrian terrain via history, myth, and personal experience—Himali Singh Soin, Issi Nanabeyin, Ruth Sutton, Kate Davis, and Richard Skelton—have been commissioned as part of the project.

Deep Time: landmark artwork proposals

Deep Time includes design proposals for a major landmark artwork for the borough of Copeland which shall be exhibited at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, and the Windermere Jetty Museum, from September 2022. This includes four design proposals by artists including Olafur Eliasson with Robert Macfarlane; Rachel Whiteread; Roger Hiorns with Tom Emerson (6a); and Piet Oudolf with Nicolas Becker, Tom Piper, Emanuele Coccia, AMI (Artist Moving Image) and vPPR

Deep Time: wider engagement
A public engagement programme bringing people into direct conversations with artists and their ideas, supported by Arts Council England. This includes three practice-led research residencies with Alistair Debling, Jamie Jenkinson and Cristina Picchi, in collaboration with the CNPPA (Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas), part of the University of Cumbria, embedding the artists in the local landscape and communities across six months and culiminating in a Deep Time symposium in 2023. 

The coastal commissions will launch alongside a curated programme of art works and moving image works at landmarks and sites across the West Cumbrian coast. Further details on the opening weekend programme, performances, screenings, talks and events will be announced on the website.

Commissioner and Lead Curator:  Aldo Rinaldi 
Curator: William Rees
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