Artist Road Trip Documents The Wonderful North

By Narelle Doe | 30 January 2008
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A picture of a man and woman hitchhiking with a cardboard sign.

Bryan and Laura Davies begin their journey. Courtesy The Wonderful North project

Calling all Northerners: what do you think is the most unique, exciting or inspirational thing about the North of England?Artists Bryan and Laura Davies are giving the public the chance to tell the whole world their suggestions with their interactive art exhibition The Wonderful North.

From mid-January the artists have been on a month-long road trip around the North of England in a camper van, fitted out as a high tech mobile studio. Visiting key cultural sites and natural wonders, they are exploring architecture, unearthing hidden treasures and meeting local characters passionate about the region.

Bryan and Laura believe that art can challenge perceptions about the North of England. Rapidly rising stars of the contemporary art scene, they are determined to prove that art can have a profound affect on all those it touches. For this project they are working with the digital agency Numiko to document their journey on their website.

The public are invited to subscribe to the site, comment on their ‘hidden gems’ or even upload their own photographs and videos. Recent contributions include the Isle of Skye Road, Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District, and the home of Grasmere ginger bread. See The Wonderful North website for more details.

Visitors to the website are able to contact the artists, follow a current map of their location and explore the digital sketchbook including diaries, video interviews and photographs.

A picture of an office with maps on the walls and a man and woman working.

Planning the road trip. Courtesy The Wonderful North project

Braving the cold with only the occasional hot bath in the home of a friendly farmer and a limited diet of porridge or baked beans, the artists are looking to meet an assortment of characters who will provide valuable insights about what it means to be a pioneer spirit in this part of the country.

It's a journey designed to challenge perceptions, discover innovation and entrepreneurism and celebrate the re-invention that typifies this corner of Britain.

There will be no time to put their feet up when the camper van finally rolls to a halt. An online exhibition will go live in April 2008 where the artists will display brand new works of art inspired from their experiences and discoveries on the road trip.

The results will be revealed in a unique online exhibition pavilion, with separate spaces to celebrate the North’s geography, history, community, economy and its place on the international stage. The creation of an online exhibition will make the project accessible for a global audience to enjoy.

A picture of a man and woman looking at a map on the wall.

The project will be a living resource to celebrate the North. Courtesy The Wonderful North project

Sara Trentham from the Arts Council explains why the artists were perfect for the project: “They have impressed us with their approach to working in partnership with a range of individuals and organisations including businesses, local community groups in Holbeck and the Pistoletto Foundation in Italy."

“They have realised high quality and engaging projects which meet the Arts Council’s aims to support excellent art reaching more people in more places. Bryan and Laura and the Wonderful North project encapsulate the sense of place and open, questioning and outward-looking ethos of the Northern Way public art programme.”

The project was commissioned by Arts Council England and funded by the Northern Way. This adds to the portfolio of high quality public art works funded by the Welcome to the North public art programme that includes other public artworks such as Anthony Gormley’s Another Place and Richard Wilson’s Turning the Place Over.

The Northern Way has invested £4.4m into the Welcome to the North programme in a bid to enhance perceptions of the North and boost overseas visitors.

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