Top 10 cultural things to see in the Lake District this spring

'Medieval Cloud Girls' by Laura Ford at Abbot Hall and Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House in the Lake District, from 11 March Abbot Hall Art Gallery will host activities for Lakes Alive 2017, photo by Tony West Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House (photo Tony West) Brantwood, home of John Ruskin, the writer, artist and social reformer

Looking for ideas for a short break? Then we have some tantalising cultural treats for you to savour. From classic masterpieces to cutting edge contemporary art – there’s plenty to pique your creative curiosity this season!

Head to the Lakes, appease your curiosity and discover its cultural side!

So if you like art, history, theatre and literature… here’s a selection of top cultural treats for a splendid Lake District break this spring.

// Rembrandt, Self Portrait at the Age of 63, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, 19 March – 15 May

Rembrandt, Self Portrait at the Age of 63 © The National Gallery, London
Rembrandt, Self Portrait at the Age of 63 © The National Gallery, London

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, is one of only three UK host venues for Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 63. This much-loved work from the National Gallery Collection is on tour as the final painting in the three-year Masterpiece Tour.

Find out more here

// Cumbrian Art: Picturing Places, Tullie House Museum & Gallery, 5 March – 5 June

'Borrowdale' by Sam Bough 1846 (copyright Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust)
‘Borrowdale’ by Sam Bough 1846 (copyright Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust)

This wide-ranging exhibition focuses on Cumbria’s rich artistic heritage represented in Tullie House Museum’s extensive collection of Cumbrian art. It features specific places depicted by nationally recognised artists from past and present.

Highlights include Sam Bough’s atmospheric landscapes, William James Blacklock’s sensitive watercolours and Thomas Bushby’s chocolate-box images of Carlisle. More recent vibrant coloured paintings by Winifred Nicholson contrast with Sheila Fell’s more subdued tones, while Julian Cooper’s massive painting of Honister Crag in the Lake District is an unmissable feature of the contemporary artists on show.

Find out more here

// Laura Ford: Seen and Unseen, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House: 11 March – 4 September & Abbot Hall Art Gallery: 11 March – 25 June

Laura Ford: Seen and Unseen at Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House
Laura Ford: Seen and Unseen at Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House

Blackwell and Abbot Hall will host an extraordinary exhibition of work by sculptor, Laura Ford. Located at Blackwell on the lawns, with select pieces in the main house and at Abbot Hall, Laura Ford: Seen and Unseen will showcase Ford’s earlier work together with new sculptures.

'Medieval Cloud Girls' by Laura Ford at Abbot Hall and Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House in the Lake District, from 11 March
‘Medieval Cloud Girls’ by Laura Ford at Abbot Hall and Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House in the Lake District, from 11 March

Born in 1961, Laura Ford’s imaginative creations explore aspects of the human condition. She describes her work as sculptures dressed as people who are dressed as animals, as they meld together ideas of childhood memory with a disturbing edge.

Find out more here

// Realism and Romance: Beatrix Potter, a life inspired by nature, Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead, 25 March – 30 October

Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead (photo National Trust)
Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead (photo National Trust)

Discover an exhibition of Beatrix’s original watercolours and illustrations which explore the inspiration she found in the natural world. From an early age, Beatrix made intricate studies of wild animals, the cycle of the seasons and the woodland environments of her beloved mushrooms.

Find out more here

// Design for Life: Radical Objects for Sustainability by Stuart Walker, Brantwood, Coniston, 16 April – 6 June

Last Supper by Stuart Walker at Brantwood
Last Supper by Stuart Walker at Brantwood

Exploring the concept of ‘Designing Sustainability’ Stuart Walker introduces an exhibition reflecting creative approaches to design that are rooted in understandings of being human – a type of design that grows out of contemplation, reflection and quietness and is enriched by cultural context and locale. As a contemporary artist-designer, Walker’s artworks at Brantwood will showcase a ‘conversation’ with early conservation and environmentalist, John Ruskin.

Find out more here

// From Fells to Fjords, Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere, 28 April – 12 June

Ennerdale Water by Alfred Heaton Cooper
Ennerdale Water by Alfred Heaton Cooper

A new exhibition at Heaton Cooper Studio, in the beautiful village of Grasmere, revealing how Scandinavian influence has impacted on the culture of northern England and inspired Lake District artist Alfred Heaton Cooper. Journeying from his home in the Lake District throughout Denmark, Sweden and Norway, reaching as far as Arctic Lapland, Heaton Cooper (1863-1929) documented the landscapes, buildings and people he encountered along the way, noting the parallels between Lakeland and Scandinavian lives and landscapes.

Find out more here

// Lakes Ignite 2016, various locations, 30 April – 22 May

Lakes Ignite 2016
Lakes Ignite 2016

Featuring a programme of outstanding contemporary art experiences inspired by our stunning landscape and a selection of music, art, comedy and literary highlights, Lakes Ignite is an eclectic, celebration of artistic expression in its many forms.

Lakes Ignite 2016 will feature three very distinctive art experiences with a theme reflecting the region’s long and complex relationship with water in all its forms.

Seven Nocturnal Rainbows for the English Lakes is a dramatic light installation created by artist Charles Monkhouse, inspired by the poets and artists of the Lake District. The programme of seven evening ‘Rainbows’ will visit three of the English Lakes in turn: Coniston Water, Ullswater and Grasmere between 30 April – 6 May 2016.

Museum of Water will be sited in Wray Castle Boat House between 6 – 8 May alongside Windermere, England’s longest lake, to ponder our precious liquid resource. Museum of Water, created by artist Amy Sharrocks and presented by Brewery Arts Centre, comprises of a collection of over 700 bottles of water, each with its own remarkable story.

The 21st Century Landscape Art Class, led by digital artist Joseph Connor, will encourage people to stop and take time out of their day to sketch what they see in the landscape using their everyday digital devices such as phones and tablets. Joseph will host creative sessions at Brockhole, in the Lakes, on the 14 and 21 May before the work is shared online and via social media. You can buy tickets for Art Class at Brockhole.

// Freerange Comedy Festival, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 16 – 22 May

Kieran Hodgson at the Freerange Comedy Festival 2016, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
Kieran Hodgson at the Freerange Comedy Festival 2016, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Some of the best comedy acts around have been brought together for laugh out loud fun at this year’s Freerange Comedy Festival. Ramesh Ranganathan, Mark Watson, Deborah Frances-White, Craig Campbell and Kieran Hodgson are amongst the impressively talented line-up of comedians set to take the stage at the Brewery Arts Centre, as part of Lakes Ignite 2016.

Find out more here

// Black Dog – The Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean, 28 May, Kendal Town Hall

Black Dog - the Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean, a 14-18 NOW WWI Art Commission with LICAF 2016
Black Dog – the Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean, a 14-18 NOW WWI Art Commission with LICAF 2016

Initiated by The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, ‘Black Dog – The Dreams of Paul Nash‘ is a new graphic novel and world-premiere multimedia performance by illustrator, comic artist, filmmaker and musician Dave McKean. McKean explores the work of Paul Nash, one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century, whose First World War experiences inspired him to create paintings of disturbing, lasting power.

Tickets for ‘Black Dog – The Dreams of Paul Nash’ by Dave McKean, at Kendal Town Hall on 28 May 2016, are available through the Brewery Arts Centre box office (Box office: 01539 725 133).

To enjoy these Lakes Culture events and much more, book your break in the Lake District here