13th July 2023
A group of young people have worked with Turner Prize-shortlisted artist and filmmaker, Luke Fowler, to make Ilam Actual: a series of short film and sound pieces, in partnership with the National Trust’s Ilam Park and YHA Ilam Hall in the Peak District, as part of Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point programme
Working with experimental filmmaker Alex Hetherington and sound artist Lee Patterson, Fowler guided the local teenagers through a series of sound and recording experiments to produce 16mm films capturing elements of Ilam Park, the YHA youth hostel Ilam Hall, and the surrounding landscape of the Peak District.
Each single-shot film runs continuously for 40 seconds with no editing, reflecting the methods used in ‘actuality films’ – a type of proto-documentary inspired by early cinema pioneers in which a silent film is composed within a single, unedited take.
“What inspires me about this place – Ilam Park and Hall – is the manufactured nature of the landscape and the house, the threshold between what is natural and what is artificial, and the palimpsest of different eras. You can read any landscape through different lenses, which is what I’m encouraging these young film makers to do – deconstructing what we can see and hear to think about the interconnections between the house, occupants and nature.” – Luke Fowler
The films were shot over the course of a weekend at Ilam Park and the youth hostel, with Lee Patterson supporting the young people through the process of recording a series of sound ‘actualities’, reframing Ilam’s landscape though recordings, while Luke Fowler and Alex Hetherington enabled the creation of the films.
Both Ilam Park and Hall were bequeathed to the National Trust on the condition that the hall became a youth hostel; a gift which has enabled tens of thousands of people to access the countryside, who may not otherwise have been able to.
Fiona Harrower, National Trust, said:
“It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with Luke, Alex and Lee in this way, to see this place in a different light and push the boundaries of how we use contemporary art to tell the stories of Ilam Park, its youth hostel and landscapes.”
Alison Stevens, Associate Director of Impact, YHA (England & Wales), said:
“We’re delighted to be involved with the project. As well as creating a unique piece of sensory art, it’s enabled us to give local young people a fantastic opportunity. Collaboration is absolutely key to YHA. Each year we aim to reach more than 500,000 young people […] and give them opportunities to connect to the outdoors and heritage, but we recognise we can’t do this alone so working with organisations and programmes like Meeting Point is very important to what we do. We’re very excited by the creation of the project with Luke and also by the legacy it will leave, which we hope will encourage more people to come here and connect with the landscape and heritage of Ilam.”
This project is part of Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point programme. Four cultural organisations – the RSC, National Trust and YHA, and Museum X – have taken part in a year-long artist-led research project to explore how artists can expand our understanding of heritage.