The ‘Creation’ strand of the 'Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience' research project centred on the development of six new artwork 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 four of the commissions as case studies our research explored in detail how contemporary artists engage with heritage narratives at these sites and how these heritage properties (their staff and volunteers) became active participants in this process.
The creative involvement of Andrew Burton (PI) as an artist delivering one of the research commissions was 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 delivering a project at one or more of our 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 were 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, with a second follow-on commission developed and presented at Cherryburn in 2019.
Our collaboration with English Heritage for the commission at Belsay Hall took 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 case study artworks, we worked with an invited artist on this commission rather than going through a competitive selection process.