Artist wants to get more people painting

A suspended picture frame isn’t what you’d expect to come across in the middle of the West Yorkshire moors. However, that’s exactly what’s being installed on six sites across God’s Own County during this year and next. It’s all part of Framing the Landscape (www.framingthelandscape.co.uk), a project that has been devised by artist Ashley Jackson, who is renowned for creating moody, ominous, wild watercolours of the moorlands of Yorkshire. His aim is to get more people, especially children, painting.

Throughout his career, Mr Jackson has been passionate about finding new ways to encourage people to take up art and to engage with the countryside. ‘All artists in their early days use their hands to make a frame to look through, but when they take their hands away to start drawing, the frame has disappeared,’ he says. ‘I thought if we could place frames among the landscape, it would help to focus the mind onto what’s inside that frame: many people look, but only a few see.’

That last biblical phrase is physically engraved on the bottom of each of the frames. He explains: ‘People look at the tree, but they don’t see the leaves; they look at the landscape, but they don’t see the shadows of the clouds racing over. The frame limits your eyes to see what’s inside it, giving the mind a chance to take everything in.’

The first frame was placed on Wessenden Moor, a picturesque area near the village of Marsden, and is strategically sited just off the Pennine Way, making it accessible to walkers. The area is part of the National Trust’s Marsden Moor estate the Trust has been a major supporter of the project and is particularly interested in its educational potential.

The second frame was ‘hung’ at Hardcastle Crags another National Trust site, north of Hebden Bridge on Yorkshire Day, August 1. Future locations will move the project out into the rest of the county; a frame is planned for Brimham Rocks later this year and for the Holme Valley, Roseberry Topping and Cusworth Hall near Doncaster in 2015.

‘The locations are all different,’ says Mr Jackson. ‘The landscape at Hardcastle Crags is filled with trees; Wessenden has the moors with fells lying down as if they’re big mammals basking in the sun. They all have something different to see through that frame.’

* This article was first published in Country Life on August 20 2014

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