Great Place: Lakes and Dales’ Artful Ways

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Awaken, reflect, think, feel, understand, laugh, walk and animate your space.

An Aerial perspective of the words, sounds and landscapes of the Romantics – aka Harriet, Rob, Manon, Beth, Richard and Karen, who like me love a walk, love nature, love the Lakes and most of all loved being back together in person, inspired our Artful Way on the 9th July. A hugely enjoyable and exhilarating day which started at Stock Lane car park in Grasmere and was followed by a 10-mile circular walk visiting the venues, places and spaces planned for the original 2020 Aerial Festival, including Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount, St Mary’s, Nab Cottage, Rothay Park and Rydal Cave, finishing at our favourite Grasmere bookshop and accompanied by the lovely Hayden Thorpe to add real authenticity. Rowan and Charlie our four-legged friends loved the freedom, the company, and the ravens (or maybe loved to bark at the ravens!) though sadly poor Guilly had to return home and sit this particular walk out due to a poorly leg.

The aim of the walk was one of artful (and indeed heartful) contemplation and reflection, to consider as a team the GPLD journey we’ve been on, where we are going next and what continues to inspire and connect us to this great place. The answer to the latter is without doubt us. We re-connected to each other through a walk taken by so many before us and indeed after us, but for us imbibing together in the natural, social and cultural history of the landscapes that inspired new works and art such as those commissioned by Aerial and those of so many celebrated poets, writers and artists was really uplifting and memorable. Wordsworth’s description of an ‘aerial… vast with a depth of vale below and height of hills above’ really resonated.

Aided by some fun word games supplied by Harriet we also pondered and critiqued our role in the creativity and culture of the Lakes, deliberating the impacts and value of arts and nature. Trains to catch, lost sausage rolls, scudding moons, a lost Richard, Welsh sayings, weddings and hog roasts all helped us to explore our creative ambitions, sharing life journeys taken and others planned.

Every moment a photo or image etched in the landscape but also in the mind, framed by our creative visions (with many captured by the talented Rob!).

Taking in (for me finally seeing them for the first time – I had no idea of the size and scale of Rydal cave!) the venues and inspirations for Aerial whilst creating and contemplating, chattering and laughing, musing and reminiscing but (re)connecting to and discovering new places and new and old friendships. And did I mention eating and drinking? Cups of tea, coffee. lemonade and cakes. Several stops of course…

The illuminations and revelations of a place lost to me in the digital darkness of Covid emerged for me through space, nature and love. It was not just a walk but a journey of expectations, awakenings and explorations, one that started for me nearly two hours away in Salford but also for my friends and colleagues from across the whole of the North. The stillness and vastness of space, the emotional hug from the landscapes of the Lakes and a feeling of belonging and being remains. The start of new beginnings and new creative journeys, and I cannot recommend a better way to fuel them.


What does creativity/culture mean to me?

Creativity is culture and culture creates and makes us.

It has many forms and guises. Beth’s comment over lunch that during the pandemic, creativity and cultural expression had opened up for her as she felt she had finally been given the permission and hence confidence to give it a go was a lightbulb moment for me. It doesn’t have to be perfect, there is so much value in trying something and it made me realise that we don’t always need to be producers and makers, we can be creative just by being and it can be found in our everyday. I am a creative thinker and planner and I inject this into almost everything I do, but often don’t think this is enough, I could do more. Maybe this is my creativity and maybe inadvertently I do produce (point in case a letter from a wee bear called Flora Mcleod, Paddington’s Scottish cousin that I wrote earlier today for my niece Nancy’s Birthday…)

Connectivity – Covid-19 has forced us all to reimagine ways to connect. What have you missed – and what new possibilities have opened up?

What have I missed?
People, human expression and touch, shared moments, laughter, love and hugs. Instinctive and emotive communications.

What has opened up for me?
Communicating with many people from many places in one place at one time.

Human connections have also been replaced by more quality connections with the outdoors and my newfound love of nature, I am no longer shy about hugging trees and my increasing knowledge of birds continues to impress even me!

Place – How can we, collectively, and artfully, better care for our environment?

I cannot underestimate the power of creative collaborations to nurture and care. More hands make stronger hands, holding hands makes stronger hearts, stronger hands and stronger hearts can make great things and I believe better influence us all to help shape our great place and better care for our environment. We can communicate better and with more impact through our art, and of course our hearts! 😉

Lindsey Hebden, Great Place: Lakes and Dales

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