5 minutes with Aileen McEvoy

Introducing 5 minutes with… Aileen McEvoy.. who worked for many years at the Arts Council and is now a Trustee / organiser of the Macclesfield Barnaby Festival, a North West Committee Member for the Heritage Lottery Fund and works with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Aileen McEvoy curator for Lakes Ignite, running from April 6 to May 24 2015
Aileen McEvoy curator for Lakes Ignite, running from April 6 to May 24 2015

Who is… presently curating a programme of arts commissions for Lakes Ignite, which will be running from April 6 to May 26

Tell us more… Lakes Ignite is a fantastic initiative bringing together tourism and the arts. From 40 applications a small number of art commissions were chosen to complement the wider cultural offer in the Lakes. These commissioned projects are essentially connected by the theme of Imaginary Journeys, encouraging visitors to rethink and revalue the Lakes and take a leap of the imagination. You can read more about Lakes Ignite here!

Why is this special to you… Cumbria is a special place, with a very rich and defined culture including music, drama and visual arts – a fabulous cultural mix! The Lakes is commonly associated with the arts of the 19th century, so Lakes Ignite supports works using relatively new media eg film, audio, comic art, electronics and engineering to highlight the contemporary relevance of culture in the Lakes.

What can audiences expect… to try something new! Plan a day.. Walla Crag with an audio walk, a trip to Brockhole Visitor Centre to see the film of Oliver East’s ‘Take Me Back to Manchester’ walk, then ride the ferry across to Wray Castle and see Harmonica Botanica the musical plant. Not forgetting the opportunity to walk on a spectacular bridge made of Cumbrian sourced paper! Visit these intriguing Lakes Ignite projects ; catch an exhibition or two and then experience the theatrical and musical events on offer in the evening.

If you could name only 3 unmissable cultural hot spots or events in the Lakes – what would they be… Blackwell, one of the most beautiful Arts and Crafts historic houses, certainly not to be missed on a visit to the Lakes. Lakes International Comic Art Festival is a new and extraordinary event, perfect for families .. it is a great  opportunity to see comic artists in action, take part in drawing sessions, attend talks and films and enjoy the town of Kendal enthusiastically engulfed in creative comic art. Brewery Arts Centre – has such a buzz with bars, cafes, lovely grounds and so many events; dance, drama, live bands and comedy throughout the year – it really is a special place!

In a nutshell how would you describe the cultural offer in the Lakes… I would describe it as a diverse and unique cultural offer ranging from the remains of ancient settlements to contemporary and classical festivals and events to more traditional heritage experiences. A coming together of modern arts with places that are part of social and industrial history in a tranquil, isolated landscape where you can breathe deeply and shake the cobwebs off.

And after a cultural adventure in the Lakes, where would be your ideal place to eat or stay… In the heart of the Lakes I would have to choose Ambleside’s cinema and vegetarian restaurant Zeffirellis.. great food, great atmosphere and live jazz if you’re lucky.. And if money were no object it would be L’Enclume in Cartmel for the ultimate theatrical dining experience.

And we just have to ask.. if you could choose one view in the Lakes where would that be… Coming up the M6, just a few miles after the sign for Cumbria there is a moment when the landscape opens-up. It gets me every time I see it. Big skies, windswept trees and distant fells. An epic welcome to the Lakes!

Find out more about Lakes Ignite here