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Major Contemporary Arts Programme come to Ironbridge. (22nd July 2015)

Major Contemporary Arts Programme come to Ironbridge.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and Meadow Arts have secured a grant from Arts Council England to produce ‘Shifting Worlds’, a spectacular programme of contemporary arts events running throughout the summer and winter of 2015. The Programme will explore the impact of the Industrial Revolution and challenge our understanding of its legacy.

Internationally renowned sculptor, David Nash has been commissioned to produce a new monumental sculpture entitled ‘Three Black Humps’ from charred wood. It will be embedded in a circle of crushed coal and reflects the cycle and history of iron. This remarkable sculpture has been inspired by the industrial landscape of Coalbrookdale, widely recognised as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution some 300 years ago. It will be positioned against the backdrop of the remarkable brick remains at Coalbrookdale, next to the Old Furnace, where Abraham Darby perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke rather than charcoal in 1709. ‘Three Black Humps’ will be available to view by the public free of charge from Monday, 22 June 2015.

Faye Claridge has been selected to be the Artist in Residence, responding to the Darby family houses and archives. Faye produces contemporary art works, investigating archives and traditional customs and folklore. During her time in Ironbridge she will invite local workers and residents, to help create an inspiring multi-media work named ‘The Mystery of The Missing Portraits’. The artwork resulting from the residency may include sculpture, images, embroidery and Morris Dancing. It will celebrate the lives of the immensely significant innovators and early Iron Masters, whose lives and works are amply documented but who, due to their Quaker beliefs, never had their portraits painted.

The House of Fairy Tales, a national children’s arts charity, established by artists Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis, will be producing The Time Travellers’ Ironbridge Quest a free family festival taking over Enginuity and Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron. On Saturday, 22 August families will be invited to embark on a mysterious quest and follow an amazing trail with games, clues, tasks, challenges and artist lead workshops. There will be six different routes with ‘Reward Tokens’ for each successfully completed trail. Storytellers, artists and performers will transform the Coalbrookdale site into a giant festival venue and offer families the opportunity to let their imagination go wild, get creative and explore how industry changed their lives. There will be free admission on 22 August to Enginuity, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and the Darby Houses.

An inspiring new exhibition ‘Landscape with Machines’ will be on show from Friday, 25 September to Friday, 18 December in the Coalbrookdale Gallery adjacent to Enginuity. It will explore the impact of the Industrial Revolution and feature works by leading contemporary artists, as well as pieces of industrial art from Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s nationally designated collections. Admission to the exhibition will be free of charge and it will be open 10am-5pm Monday - Sunday.

This innovative programme of events will provide the backdrop for ‘Shifting Worlds: Reimagining the Industrial Revolution’, a symposium 9 - 10 October, when academics and artists will meet to discuss the themes explored by ‘Shifting Worlds’.

The Programme is collaboration between the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, the education and heritage conservation charity that operates the ten award-winning museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, and Telford and Meadow Arts, the Shropshire based charitable organisation that produces exceptional contemporary art projects in unusual places, bringing high quality contemporary art to areas where few other facilities exist.

Anna Brennand, Chief Executive Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust commented; “Ironbridge Gorge is known across the world as a Birthplace of Industry and Coalbrookdale is one of our greatest cultural assets. We are keen to host a number of high impact artistic interventions in response to the Coalbrookdale site and celebrate our rich industrial heritage through new contemporary art forms. We are very grateful to Arts Council England for funding this exciting Programme and we look forward to working with a range of contemporary artists in this inspiring environment.”

Anne de Charmant, Director and Curator at Meadow Arts commented; “Shifting Worlds will use the incisive media of contemporary art to re-visit and re-evaluate the significance of the Industrial Revolution, in particular the magnitude of change that was brought about. This, in turn, will encourage viewers to think again about our present condition and place in the world as well as contemplate our personal or collective future.”

More details about ‘Shifting Worlds’ can be found on www.ironbridge.org.uk and www.meadowarts.org.