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Art lovers and visitors to Grizedale Forest will be able to take a peek into the past as the Forestry Commission opens up its art archive to the public for the first time.
An exhibition of work by renowned sculptor Keir Smith is set to open this weekend.
Keir Smith, who died in 2007 aged 57, was twice artist in residence at Grizedale Forest in 1979-80 and 1981-82, before becoming an influential figure within the British sculpture scene.
Although none of the original work from Keir Smith’s time at Grizedale survives – artists knew their work would decay over time in the forest - one of his sculptures, ‘Last Rays of an English Rose’, was installed in Grizedale near Bowkerstead Farm in 2009.
The exhibition of his work, which will open on Saturday, April 9 and run until the end of August, will include a sister sculpture called ‘Running from Eden’. Created in 1986/7, the piece features the carving of four bridges into separate railway sleepers, a material that Kier used often in his work. These are connected by tracks so the piece resembles a traditional railway line.
The exhibition will also include a further 18 wall-mounted pieces, including watercolours, rust iron filing drawings – a technique developed by Kier – and project drawings for the development of later sculptures.
Hayley Skipper, Forestry Commission Curator of arts development, who studied under Keir Smith at art school, said:
“Keir was one of the leading lights in his generation of sculptors. He was a very young artist when he was here and he went on to create many other public commissions including ‘Iron Road’ in the Forest of Dean, ‘Topsail’ in Bristol and ‘From the Dark Cave’ in London.
“The items in the exhibition are all items that have not been shown together publicly before. There is no trace of his early works in the forest any longer, but artists were aware of the life cycle of work being made at Grizedale during that period
“By opening up the archives for the first time to create this exhibition we are creating a window to reveal to people what was happening here in the forest during that important period.”
All the works on show in the exhibition have been bequeathed to the Forestry Commission by Clare, Keir’s wife, and will be kept as part of the Grizedale Archive.
The exhibition, which will be accessed through the café in the recently revamped Visitor Centre, will be a pilot for what could become an ongoing series of temporary exhibitions at Grizedale.
Grizedale Forest was at the forefront in the development of art in the environment in the 1970's and the Forest is home to over 60 sculptures including works by Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Harris and David Kemp.
Grizedale has something for everyone with a wide range of waymarked walking and cycle trails, forest roads, and bridleways, with superb views of Coniston Water, Windermere and the Grizedale Valley.
More information about Grizedale Forest can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedalehome
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests today are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber. www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland
Hayley Skipper on 01229 862015 and Sarah Bruce, the Forestry Commission’s marketing manager in Cumbria, on 01229 862011 or 07827 232832.