The ‘Creation’ strand of the 'Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience' research project centres on the development of five new temporary art commissions for four heritage properties in North East England: Cherryburn and Belsay Hall in Northumberland; Gibside in Gateshead; and Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland.
Taking a case study approach our research explores in detail how contemporary artists engage with heritage narratives at these four sites and how these heritage properties (their staff and volunteers) become active participants in this process.
The creative involvement of Andrew Burton (PI) as an artist delivering one of the five commissions is a key feature of our project, maximising the capacity of our research to investigate and understand the creative processes, conceptual and practical challenges of artists’ engagement with heritage and the potential impacts of this work on future individual artistic practice.
In our selection process for the case study commissions at Cherryburn, Gibside and Holy Trinity Church we invited 43 artists from a researched longlist to submit an Expression of Interest in the commissions at one or more of our the research sites. Working with our project partners and site staff, 12 of these artists were then shortlisted to present more developed proposals. After a series of site visits and panel interviews, three artists were selected to deliver the commissions and to join our research project. Including Andrew Burtons' project, these four commissions have been developed over an eight-month research and production period culminating in the public presentation of the artworks on-site at the three properties in Summer 2018. Alongside this the research team have been working with each of the artists individually to record and track the creative development of their commissioned artworks and in particular the processes of artists’ engagement with the heritage sites and their historical contexts.
Our collaboration with English Heritage for the commission at Belsay Hall takes a slightly different approach to our projects with National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust. As an extension to our research programme, and providing a comparison with the other four case studies, we have worked with an invited artist on this commission.