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Pan-European art projects gets on track in Northamptonshire

— August 2014

Associated media

 Xevi Bayona, Trace Track, situated in Stanwick Lakes in Northamptonshire

Visitors to Northamptonshire will be letting off steam in the picturesque surroundings of the Nene Valley, as the area hosts a large-scale contemporary public arts project rivalling any in the UK this summer.

The three installations are part of the CHANGING TRACKS project, which has brought art inspired by railway heritage to three countries, Spain, Ireland and the UK. Using artists from those countries, the project has created such installations as Xevi Bayona’s Trace Track (pictured) a 10 metre-high railway track appearing and disappearing from a lake.

The installations, which add to the growing body of outdoor artworks in the UK landscape, explore the changing use of disused railway linesand reveal the hidden heritage, industry and local stories associated with the former railway lines.In Northamptonshire, the artworks reflect a variety of themes including the effect on local communities of the Beeching Cuts, implemented 50 years ago this year to remove what were thought to be non-essential rail lines, to the impact of HS2, The high-speed rail link that is planned to pass through the south of the county.

Graham Callister, Cultural Policy & Planning Manager forNorthamptonshire County Council, said:

CHANGING TRACKS has brought something brand new to the Northamptonshire countryside that can be enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and families alike. The project has bridged communities in three countries and celebrated the legacy of our Victorian railways to the present day. We hope visitors will make tracks to see the project this summer. 

The UK leg of the projectwill enable visitors and other new audiences to engage with contemporary art by placing the artworks in a non-traditional, outdoor exhibition spaces.These highly ambitious artworks will remain in situ until mid November in the UK.

The series of public artworks produced by artists from the UK, Ireland and Spain – Noah Rose, Aideen Barry and Xevi Bayona, respectively – willbe situated on or adjacent to disused railway lines that are now used as walking or cycle paths, in locations as diverse as a former railway station (now Rushden Transport Museum) and a converted Goods Shed.

The three artists’ interpretation of the brief vary considerably. Aideen Barry’s charming work takes us on a whimsical tour of Victorian etiquette for the lady traveller, based on the contemporary guide by Lillian Campbell Davidson, Hints for Lady Travellers. Xevi Bayona, well used to producing large scale installations, uses the landscape as his inspiration, with Trace Track featuring railway sleepers that emerge out the ground, crossing  a lake before merging with steel track and extending 10 metres vertically in to the air. Salford-based Noah Rose charts the rise and fall of the railways in his Museum of Interconnected Events, which create a number of viewing opportunities for visitors. The ‘events’ will be sculptural installations, incorporating some new media content, each a beautifully designed and made object. The collection will function as an outdoor museum/ gallery creating a sense of intrigue and a desire to ‘collect’ them all by the walkers, cyclists, etc. along each route. The ’event cabinets’ will contain a variety of artefacts that may include salvaged objects found locally, archival photographs or other documents relating to the impact of the railways on their surroundings, local species diversity and local legends or cultural traditions.

The project aims to engage with a wide range of leisure and recreational users such as walkers, cyclists, families, fishers, and local community groups including heritage, schools, colleges and local tourism businesses. 

About the artists

Aideen Barry’srange of artistic expression, from performance, film, sculpture and drawing explores human behaviour, specifically manifestations of anxiety, and strange areas between amusement and discomfort. For CHANGING TRACKS she draws inspiration from a 19th-century publication Hints for Lady Travellers by Lillian Campbell Davidson, which offers both useful and (now) ridiculous advice for the independent female traveller. Barry makes strange both the landscape, found history and the experience of being a ‘Flâneuse’ through her jaunts through the topographies and records of the three sites in this project. Barry will present stop-motion video projections which can be seen at unexpected intervals along each of the three cycling/walking tracks. One of the main manifestations of the project will be a limited edition interactive publication that will be made available at specially selected spaces at each location.

Salford-based artist, Noah Rose specializes in making work for public spaces and has worked in over 80 locations across the UK, Ireland and Europe. His artistic practice encompasses sculpture, drawing and a range of hybrid three-dimensional work including sculptural typography, architectural metalwork, street furniture and micro-architecture.

The Catalan artist and architect, Xevi Bayona has produced many spectacular multimedia installations, and his contribution to CHANGING TRACKS has reflected that. In addition to Trace Track in the UK, Xevi has created two other large-scale installations in Tortosa, Catalonia and County Mayo, Ireland. Both Ombres de Memoria and Smoke Train made use creative use of existing features in the landscape, in this case bridges, to create stunning vistas that can also be accessed by the general public. Ombres de Memoria (Shadows of Memory) was on the 230m-long bridge over the River Ebro and featured coloured ribbons that when illuminated showed the shadows of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge. Smoke Train used a light installation on the viaduct in Newport, County Mayo to mimic the steam created by the trains that formerly graced the Great Western Greenway.

CHANGING TRACKS has received funding from the Education, Audiovisual and Cultural Executive of the European Commission (EACEA) as part of the EU Culture Programme 2007-2013. It is supported by Northamptonshire County Council, UK, Mayo County Council, Ireland and Consortium Transversal Cultural Activities Network, Spain.

CHANGING TRACKS was initiated by Northamptonshire County Council, who as the lead co-ordinator, secured funding for the project from the European Commission. This is the first European-funded arts project to be held in the county and follows the successful London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme in Northamptonshire.

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