Our list of some of the best-looking arts and cultural events in Cumbria this year. This is what we have pencilled in the diaries so far, check back for updates and keep up-to-date with what’s happening for Outdoor Art & Adventure, Museums & Galleries, Festivals & Performance and Family Fun whatever the weather.
Here are our picks
Diaries at the ready for ongoing outstanding culture in the beautiful Lake District! With its vibrant literary legacy and the UK’s first forest for sculpture, this celebrated cultural landscape provides an abundance of inspiration and exploration throughout the year.
If you fancy more Cumbrian cultural delights, this season promises an impressive line-up of unmissable art, theatre and festivals!
From celebrations of classic literature and classical music to international comic art creativity and world-class contemporary art – there’s some Lakes Culture for everyone!
// CELEBRATING JOHN RUSKIN 200THANNIVERSARY
John Ruskin (1819 – 1900), circa 1840. An engraving after G Richmond.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a writer, artist and philanthropist. As an author he commanded international respect, attracting praise from figures as varied as Tolstoy, George Eliot, Proust and Gandhi. He championed many of the tenets of the welfare state, and inspired the founders of the National Health Service, the formation of Public Libraries, the National Trust and many other cornerstones of civil society in the last one hundred years. His influence reached abroad in such areas as women’s education, the minimum wage, child labour, and environmental protection and has served both as a restraining influence on unbridled capitalism and a moral conscience for the nations of the world
He wrote on many things: art and architecture, nature and craftsmanship, literature and religion, political economy and social justice —a dizzying variety of subjects. He also worked tirelessly for a better society; the depth and range of his thinking, his often-fierce critique of industrial society and its impact on both people and their environment, and his passionate advocacy of a sustainable relationship between people, craft and nature, remain as pertinent today as they were in his own lifetime.
Ruskin made his home at Brantwood, overlooking Coniston, he made his home here for the last 28 years of his life. The Ruskin Museumwas established in the heart of Coniston village soon after his death. Both now offers a fascinating insight into the world of John Ruskin.
There will be exhibitions throughout the year at Brantwood, The Ruskin Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery.
// RUSKIN’S GOOD LOOKING! ABSENCE AND PRESENCE IN JOHN RUSKIN’S CLOTHING – Brantwood, Coniston
6 February – 7 April 2019
Artist in residence, Sarah Casey, Ruskin’s christening robe. Pencil drawing.
Sarah Casey has been artist in residence at Brantwood throughout 2018 and the timely opening of the resulting exhibition on 6 February 2019 marks the 200th Anniversary of Ruskin’s birth on 8th February 1819.
Ruskin thought of architectural and natural ornament as forms of dress which simultaneously cloak and reveal. Ruskin’s Good Looking! puts this premise to the test. Sarah applies Ruskin’s ideas about drawing to explore the details of his own clothes and to uncover material ‘clues’ of Ruskin’s life embedded in his christening clothes, dress suit, his signature necktie and hat. It is the first time that these garments have been visually examined through drawing. Sarah’s delicate and elusive drawings ask: at what point does visibility disappear and drawing become immaterial? Her practice reflects a fascination with the unseen, untouchable and unspoken.
The exhibition and supporting catalogue will aim to provide new evidence for the value of drawing as a research method, contributing to a growing debate within studies of material culture. Amongst the series of new large-scale drawings that Sarah has produced for the exhibition is one of Ruskin’s christening robe – worn by Ruskin at his christening 13 days after his birth.
Find out more here
// TULLIE125: CELEBRATING 125 YEARS, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle
8 February – 17 March 2019
The laying the Tullie House foundation stone, 26 May 1882. ©cumbriaimagebank
Tullie House was officially opened as a museum, public library and school of art in 1893. The buildings housed the collections of the city and shared the stories they told in a brand-new museum and art gallery. 125 years later Tullie House is marking this remarkable achievement by reflecting on their past, celebrating their present and looking ahead to an exciting future.
Inspired by the stories of the people who have visited, studied or worked at the museum, from the Victorian Corporation men with a grand idea, to the celebrated artists who learnt their craft in the School of Art, to the families spending quality time together, this new exhibition explores what makes Tullie House a unique place in the heart of Carlisle.
Find out more about how they are celebrating 125 here
// JAPANESE CINEMA, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
Penguin Highway, debut anime feature from Hiroyasu Ishida. A rendition of Tomihiko Morimi’s 2010 novel of the same title which has been recognised with a Nihon Science Fiction Taisho Award.
Film fans can experience a unique taste of Japanese cinema at The Brewery.
The Brewery is hosting the Japan Foundation’s touring film programme which will see the centre join a select group of only 19 cinemas across the UK to host the special screenings.
The overarching theme of the programme is love and the titles on show at the Brewery include: Penguin Highway (Thu 14 Mar, 8.15pm) – Anime fantasy about a schoolboy investigating the mysterious reason behind the sudden appearance of penguins in his village and Thicker than Water (Thu 21 Mar, 8.15pm) – Gripping drama exposing the turbulent relationships between two pairs of siblings
Film programmer Chris Ashton said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme once again as it demonstrates our commitment to provide a diverse and exciting specialist cinema offer for South Lakeland and beyond.”
The films will be shown in the intimate surroundings of our Warehouse Cinema, book here.
//Earth Photo – Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Sat Nav Postcode: LA22 0QJ
Every day until 17 March
Sue Jugnarain, Earth Energy, 2017. ©Sue Jugnarain.
The inaugural edition of the Earth Photo competition and exhibition presents a selection from an outstanding array of photographs from 1280 submissions from 19 different countries focussing on four key themes – People, Nature, Place and Change. Catch it while you can.
Find out more here
// IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT – The Gaddum Gallery, Brockhole on Windermere
2 February – 1 April 2019
Ben Bush is a self-taught landscape photographer born and based in the North Lake District.
Ben’s photographs feature impressive mountain ranges, arching celestial skies, low misty clouds and deep mirrored waters. His collection of work predominately celebrates the Lake District. Additional photographs show other magical scenes such as the northern lights of Skye. Many of Bush’s images explore the realm of astrophotography.
Ben’s pictures are as striking as the knowledge of his subject. Talking about his photographs, he can identify every hill, lake and constellation with the same amount of excitement as the very moment he captured them.
Ben grew up in Sandale and from an early age spent his time walking, climbing, and mountain biking in his native Cumbria. When Ben trained as a tree surgeon his affinity with and passion for nature was consolidated. When he’s not up a tree, chainsaw in hand, or standing at a market stall, Ben is out exploring. With his camera equipment strapped to his back and four dogs in tow, Bush is free to chase low moonlight and seek solitude in the still of the night.
Back home in his studio, Ben’s editing processes are carefully considered. Some images are left close to raw capture. Some are skilfully stitched to create large panoramas. One of his most well-received photographs uses 140 images, stacked to present the passage of earthly time over 40 minutes.
Immersed in the ancient landscape and the vast beauty of the Universe, he sometimes includes his own silhouette within the frame. As with all his work, similarly Ben Bush invites the viewer to situate and consider their own connection to the wider world.
Find out more here
// COMICS: EXPLORE & CREAT COMIC ART – Rheged, Penrith
15 February – 22 April 2019
‘Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art’ from Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, explores how comic books are created by giving visitors the opportunity to explore each step in the creative process. Through Character, Setting, Plot, Style and Special Powers, comic book fans of all ages will be immersed in the in the stimulating and imaginative world of children’s comics, surrounded by interactive activities, playful props and unique, original materials.
See Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace as they were drawn in the 1940s and 50s; find old friends like Oor Wullie, Minnie the Minx and Roy of the Rovers; imagine yourself on an adventure with Dan Dare from The Eagle.
‘Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art’ will feature Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman and Hulk as drawn by British artist Ian Churchill. Ian works for Marvel and DC Comics, America’s largest comic corporations – Marvel and DC Comics.
Once visitors have been inspired by all the parts of a comic process, it’s time for them to create their own. By picking up a ‘DIY’ comic, everyone can bring their own characters to life in their own, unique world.
Find out more here
// 2019 SPRING SEASON, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
March – May 2019
Jonathan Wrather as Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray, By Oscar Wilde, adapted by Séan Aydon.
The Spring Season at the theatre kicks off with the world premiere production of Creditors by August Strindberg (22 March – 20 April) in a new adaptation by Howard Brenton and co-produced with London’s Jermyn Street Theatre. Brenton’s adaptation of Miss Julie played at Theatre by the Lake in2017, and will be reprised at the theatre for five special performances (1 – 4 April), before going on regional tour across Cumbria and beyond.
In the Main House, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray will star Jonathan Wrather in the lead role, followed by TBTL’s co-production of Willy Russell’s classic play Educating Rita featuring Stephen Tompkinson (Brassed Off, Wild at Heart, DCI Banks) as Frank, produced with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers. The Picture of Dorian Gray plays from 8 – 13 April, with Educating Rita playing from 18 – 27 April.
Other highlights include Heart of Darkness (26 – 30 March), an explosive retelling of Joseph Conrad’s novel from associate company and acclaimed digital theatre makers, imitating the dog. TBTL is also delighted to welcome back the wonderful Phoenix Dance Theatre, who are returning with The Rite of Spring (8 May).
The theatre is also proud to present a wide range of shows and events for families, from Metta Theatre’s hip-hop musical In the Willows (2 – 6 April and starring Olivier Award-winning actor Clive Rowe who many will recognise from BBC Children’s drama The Story of Tracy Beaker). The theatre will once again be a venue for 2019’s Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival (9 – 12 May).
Find out more here
// MOUNTAIN HISTORY, Heaton Cooper Gallery, Grasmere
February – May 2019
A bronze plaque listing all 20 names of the members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who served in the First World War.
A remarkable piece of Lake District history is on display here at the Heaton Cooper archive gallery in Grasmere.
A bronze plaque listing all 20 names of the members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who served in the First World War is the centrepiece of an exhibition. For many years it was set into the summit cairn on Great Gable, the seventh highest mountain in the Lakes.
It’s accompanied by the Fell & Rock journals from 1914-1919, photographs of the dedication ceremony on Gable in 1924, a poem “We Bought Them a Mountain”, by Max Biden, photographs and crag drawings of Gable, and Fell & Rock guidebooks illustrated by William Heaton Cooper.
The exhibition is to mark the centenary of a campaign to buy Great Gable for the nation as a memorial to the 20 climbers who died in the conflict. FRCC member Herbert Cain said publicly: “Let’s buy a fell.’’
The FRCC subsequently raised the funds to buy 3,000 acres of fell land and gave it to the National Trust. The memorial plaque was unveiled on Whit Sunday, 1924, and remained on the summit until July 2013 when members of the Royal Engineers brought it down for re-casting and put a new one in its place.
William Heaton Cooper’s exquisite drawings of the Lakeland crags were used in the FRCC guides for 50 years from the 1930s onwards. The books were definitive guides for the climbing community, showing new routes as they were developed, drawn on site and working closely with the climbers at the crag face.
Julian Cooper, William’s son, and Britain’s foremost mountain painter said: “It was a amazingly bold and generous act by the Fell & Rock Club to donate so much of the high fells to the National Trust, and such a fitting memorial to those who lost their lives”
Find out more here
// A DESIGN LINEAGE: THE RUSLAND MOVEMENT, Blackwell, Arts & Crafts House, Windermere
18 January – 9 June 2019
Stunning contemporary furniture inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement and Blackwell itself.
From workshops in Greenodd on the edge of the Lake District, The Rusland Movement’s creations stand the test of time, becoming heirlooms of the future. Its talented team of craftspeople draw inspiration from their Cumbrian surroundings to create pieces inspired by nature.
Select pieces on display throughout Blackwell include an elegant cocktail cabinet, sofa and chair, desk, sideboard, bedside table, mirror and drawer unit.
Since it opened in 2001, Blackwell has built up a reputation of displaying contemporary work by craftspeople who have been inspired by Blackwell’s Arts & Crafts architecture and design.
The team of nine dedicated craftsmen and women at The Rusland Movement combine traditional techniques and innovative thinking to create flawless pieces that blend the design aesthetic synonymous with the Arts & Crafts Movement with contemporary style.
Visitors to Blackwell can explore how pieces of furniture are sketched, realised in 3D models and crafted in the Cumbrian studio just 20 minutes from Blackwell. They can also meet the team and gain an insight into The Rusland Movement’s creative process in Monthly Meet the Maker events. There is also a programme of lectures and talks taking place in Blackwell’s stunning Main Hall.
Find out more here
// REFUGE: THE ART OF BELONGING, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
15 February – 29 June 2019
Martin Bloch, Scorched Trees, 1943
The exhibition is part of Insiders/Outsiders – a nationwide arts festival taking place throughout 2019 to celebrate refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British culture. The show examines displacement within artists’ work and the adoption of new landscapes. Itfeatures works from Lakeland Arts’ collection including Kurt Schwitters, Hilde Goldschmidt, Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Martin Bloch. The selected works focus on the personal experiences of the artists, offering poignant, emotive and, sometimes, challenging stories of migration, home and belonging.
This exhibition particularly focuses on the work of two artists who came to the Lake District during the Second World War: Hilde Goldschmidt (1897-1980), a successful Expressionist artist, and Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) who is widely recognised as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
Considered by many to be the first multimedia artist, working in paint, collage, poetry and installations, Schwitters was seen by the Nazis to be a ‘degenerate’ artist. Born in Hannover, Schwitters developed his own style of abstract art which he called Merz. Like most German artists, Schwitters was driven out of Germany by the Nazis, and fled to Ambleside, Cumbria.
The exhibition will also include works by Josef Herman and Oskar Kokoschka and will feature a selection of loans from both public and private collections around the UK. French-German artist Jean ‘Hans’ Arp (1886-1966) will also be included. Although Arp fled to Switzerland, he had a resounding effect on British Surrealist art and communicated regularly with his friend Schwitters while he lived in Cumbria.
Find out more here
// 2019: The Wordsworth Trust
March – December 2019
2019 will be one of the most exciting years in the Trust’s history, as they redevelop the Town End site as part of their Heritage Lottery Funded project Reimagining Wordsworth. Throughout 2019 and early 2020, they will be opening a new café and learning centre, opening up previously unused outdoor spaces, expanding and modernising the museum, and carrying out careful restoration in Dove Cottage, bringing it even closer to the home William and Dorothy would have known.
As a result of this project, there will be some changes as to what visitors are able to do in 2019. As with any kind of building work, the timings and exact details of the work and therefore what will be open may change.
From 1 March onwards, when Dove Cottage is closed, there will be a special alternative experience held in our library, the Discover Wordsworth talk. These hour-long sessions will include a film of Dove Cottage narrated by one of our experienced guides, plus time to view the library with objects and manuscripts on display. They will run every hour, on the half hour, every day of the week.
In March the talks will run from 10.30am, last talk 4.30pm. From 1 April until Dove Cottage re-opens they will run from 9.30am, last talk 4.30pm. From 1 November – 23 December the Discover Wordsworth talks will run from 10.30am, last talk 3.30pm.
The best thing to do is to check their website or call ahead before you visit to find out the most up-to-date information.
// EXHIBITIONS at Sizergh Castle, Kendal
16 March – 27 October 2019, Tuesday – Sunday, 12-3.30pm
The Sizergh Silk Road: from Goa to Antwep
Follow the threads of Sizergh’s textile history from the Anthony and Cleopatra Flemish tapestries, to the newly rediscovered bedspread of James II in the exhibition new for 2019.
Cecilia’s Story: A Life in Letters
Uncover the story of Sizergh’s 18th century lady of the house, Cecilia Strickland, as her experiences of love, loss and hope are brought to life inspired by her surviving letters.
// RUUP by Birgit Õigus, Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Sat Nav Postcode: LA22 0QJ
RUUP by Birgit Õigus in Grizedale Forest (photograph by Amelia Harvey)
To celebrate Grizedale Forest’s 50th Anniversary of arts and creativity in the forest, the Forestry Commission and Lakes Alive Festival have co-commissioned RUUP by Estonian artist Birgit Õigus. Located on the Carron Crag Trail, one of 8 walking trails, in this impressively scenic woodland landscape, RUUP is derived from the Estonian word Ruupor which translates as megaphone. The sculptures respond to the Lake District location creating structures intended to encourage people to pause and listen to the sounds of the forest, to act as shelters for walkers and also become mini stages for live performances.
Set in the heart of the Lake District National Park – a UNESCO world heritage site – Grizedale Forest was the first place in the UK to develop art in the landscape and is ‘the UK’s first forest for sculpture’. You can enjoy RUUP and over 50 other artworks in the almost 25 km² of woodland throughout the year at Grizedale Forest.
Find out more here