Research project to create new artwork for historic sites

Newcastle University has launched a £775,000 research project which will lead to the creation of four new pieces of artwork for three historic sites.

Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience is a three-year collaborative research project (2017-2019) investigating the value and practice of siting contemporary visual art in heritage sites.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) the project is conducted by a team of researchers based at Newcastle and Leeds Universities, working in partnership with the National Trust, English Heritage, Arts&Heritage, The Churches Conservation Trust, the Contemporary Visual Art Network and Arts Council England.

A key part of the project will be the creation of four new temporary art commissions for three of the North East’s most distinctive heritage properties: Cherryburn in Northumberland will site one piece of artwork; Gibside in Gateshead, two commissions; and Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland, one. The commissions include new projects by award-winning UK artists, Fiona Curran, Mark Fairnington, Matt Stokes and Andrew Burton

The new artworks will be presented on-site at the three heritage properties in summer 2018. As research case studies, each artwork will be appraised by focus groups including National Trust volunteers and first-time visitors to heritage properties. The artists themselves will work with the research team to explore how their creative process is challenged by working with new partners in the heritage sector.

Professor Andrew Burton, from Newcastle University, is leading the project as principal investigator. He will also be developing one of the case study artworks at Gibside.

Speaking about the project Professor Burton said: ‘The three heritage sites provide a rich foundation upon which artists will develop ideas and new work. We are delighted to be working with the National Trust, English Heritage and the Churches Conservation Trust on such an important and exciting research project.”

The aim of the research is to test how contemporary art sited in heritage properties can change the experience of visitors, how it impacts on heritage organisations, including their staff and volunteers, and how it can change the working practices and professional lives of artists.

Bold claims are often made by funding agencies and heritage organisations for the value of commissioning contemporary art – but they have never been rigorously tested. The research will be important in guiding future investment in the arts.

The research will also map the current ‘landscape’ of contemporary art in heritage sites, investigating its geographical spread within England and Wales, and the network of artists, curators, sites and organisations involved.

The project will be documented through a website which will build into a rich resource for curators, the public, artists, students and researchers who want to find out more about the production and consumption of contemporary artworks commissioned for heritage locations.

An exhibition at the newly refurbished Hatton Gallery at Newcastle University and a major conference is planned for 2019 that will include work and presentations from all the commissioned artists.

For more information about Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience please visit the project website

Notes to editors:

Media contacts: Andrew Burton,, Judith King,; Rebecca Farley,

Commissioned artists biographies:

Andrew Burton is a visual artist and Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University. His work situates sculpture in relation to landscape and architecture. His engagement with the narratives of place emphasises the use of materials and processes. He works with materials as various as bamboo, clay and cow dung and has developed projects collaboratively, working alongside artisans and craftspeople in India and East Africa. His work has won international awards, including Gold Prize at the KOCEF biennial in South Korea in 2015.

Fiona Curran is an artist whose work explores the poetics and the politics of landscape through the making of artworks for exhibition, writing and site-related public commissions. She holds a PhD from the Slade School of Fine Art and is a Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art, London. Fiona’s work has been exhibited internationally and her public commissions include works for Kielder Art & Architecture, Northumberland; Art Across the City, Swansea; The Royal London Hospital; and Tatton Park, Cheshire.

Mark Fairnington is Reader in Painting at the University of the Arts, London. His work is based on museum collections and a visual examination of the idea and image of the specimen. Mark has worked with the Imperial War Museum, the Oxford Museum of Natural History, the Natural History Museum, the Horniman Museum and the Wellcome Collection. In 2002, he received funding from the Wellcome Trust to visit the rainforests of Belize with the biologist Dr George McGavin, from Oxford University. Recent exhibitions include: Fabulous Beasts, was mounted at the Natural History Museum in 2004; Unnatural History, 2012, a retrospective at the Mannheim Kunstverein, Germany; and Collected and Possessed at the Horniman Museum in London 2016.

Matt Stokes is an artist whose works begin with an immersive research process that explores the history and social structures of place, resulting in the production of films, installations and events. Collaboration lies at the centre of his works’ formation and philosophy, often working directly with people from the communities where the work will be shown. Stokes has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, including solo exhibitions at: Matt’s Gallery, London; CAAC, Seville, Spain; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead); Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; and De Hallen, Haarlem, Netherlands. Matt is represented by Workplace Gallery, London/Gateshead and Markus Lüttgen, Cologne.



A&H Launches Meeting Point2

Arts&Heritage is delighted to announce the launch of the Meeting Point2 commissions. 10 artists have been selected to work in partnership with museums in the North of England, each creating a new piece of work in response to the museums and their collections.

The artists, who have been commissioned through Meeting Point2, have created projects inspired by a range of venues including a restored historic open-pan salt making site to an excavated monastic site dating back to the 12th century.

The Meeting Point2 commissions will take place between August 2017 – March 2018:


2 August – 5 November 2017 Luminary by Serena Partridge at Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, Lancashire

22 August – 8 December 2017 This Liberty by Matt Stokes in collaboration with Richard Dawson at Hexham Old Gaol, Northumberland

23 August – 29 August 2017 Time in the Ice House by David Appleyard at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens, Cheshire

30 September – 13 October 2017 Sew Near – Sew Far by Lynn Setterington at Brontë Parsonage Museum, West Yorkshire

3 October – 12 November 2017 Refuge: Ropner’s Ghost Ship by Stephen Dixon and Alison Welsh at Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees

16 October – 8 December Gestured by Brass Art at Chetham’s Library, Manchester

19 October 2017 Thomas Bell Ale by Magnus Quaife at Portland Basin Museum, Ashton-under-Lyne

1 December 2017 – March 2018 Salt by Martin Hylton at Lion Salt Works, Cheshire

2 December 2017– 28 February 2018 The Sound of Time by Owl Project at Prescot Museum, Knowsley

31 January – 11 April 2018 Strata: structures, transformation and solidarity by Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan at Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre


For more information on museum opening times please visit the each museum’s website.

The programme builds on a successful pilot, which took place in 2016 and saw artists working with museums across the North East and Yorkshire.

More details are available at


Funded by Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund.


Arts&Heritage awarded £940,000 from Arts Council England


Arts Council England has awarded Northumberland-based Arts&Heritage £940,000 over the period of 2018-22, enabling the organisation to continue its work with museums, heritage organisations and contemporary artists.

Arts&Heritage specialises in working with the museum and heritage sector to commission artists from all disciplines to create new contemporary work revealing new narratives about historic sites and their collections. 

Director Timandra Nichols said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Arts Council England will be supporting our work until 2022.

“Over the years we’ve worked with a huge range of museums and heritage venues, big and small, working together to commission outstanding art – from a crystal horse made by designer Stella McCartney which appeared at Belsay Hall, to the ‘Gallery of Wonder’ which toured around the region, allowing people to enjoy a spectacle of extraordinary visual magic in agricultural shows and village fairs.”

The funding has been awarded under the Arts Council England’s Sector Support Organisations (SSO) programme, a category within its National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding which awards funding to organisations which play a vital role in supporting the cultural sector.

Organisations which are awarded SSO funding offer access to expertise and innovation for the cultural sector, driving progress and change.

“We are extremely pleased that Arts Council England has invested in the work that we do and we are looking forward to rolling out our Meeting Point programme nationally.

“Our commitment to developing new commissioning opportunities for artists within unusual contexts and places remains paramount, as does working with the museum sector whose enthusiasm for their collections and stories is evident and inspiring”

Arts&Heritage is currently working with 10 artists and venues in the North East, North West and Yorkshire to commission new artworks in response to the museums and their collections.

The first of the 10 commissions, Luminary, by textile artist Serena Partridge, will go on show at Gawthorpe Textiles Collection in Lancashire from 2 August 2017.