Exploring Northumberland's Dark Past and Bright Future in Art.

Monday 11/07/2016
Exploring Northumberland's Dark Past and Bright Future in Art

A celebration of art and architecture in Northumberland has seen the unveiling of 11 new installations at Kielder.

The launch of London-based Fiona Curran’s “The grass seemed darker than ever” – an artistic response to the history of Kielder Castle – also saw the introduction of ten temporary installations created by Fine Art students at Newcastle University.

Located only 600m from Kielder Castle, “The grass seemed darker than ever” features more than 350 individually painted fence palings encircling a section of the forest floor, now painted black.

The piece is inspired by the history of enclosure of the English landscape, reflecting, in particular, the Black Act of the 18th Century. This Act enabled the death sentence to be passed on people suspected of poaching on the newly-enclosed land, or those found in the forest with blackened faces.

Fiona Curran said: "It has been a wonderful experience working at Kielder over the past year with such a committed and supportive team of people. The landscape has been a constant source of inspiration throughout the changing seasons. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work in such a magical place, to participate in the Art and Architecture programme, and to contribute to the area’s rich histories."

One of the student artworks is based on the story of Hansel and Gretel.  A vending machine sited in the forest dispenses miniature gingerbread sculptures and visitors are led there by a trail of crumbs.

All 11 pieces of work form part of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust’s Art and Architecture programme.  These particular pieces have been made possible thanks to support from the Forestry Commission, Northumbrian Water, and Arts Council England.

The ten pieces by Fine Art students build upon the growing relationship between Kielder Water & Forest Park and Newcastle University.   Previously architecture students have designed a stargazing pavilion in Stonehaugh, a warm room for stargazers at Kielder campsite and currently redeveloping a dilapidated roundhouse in Rochester.

Peter Sharpe, curator of Kielder Art and Architecture, said: “The Art and Architecture programme is constantly evolving and it is great to work with established artists, such as Fiona, as well as students who represent the future of art. Having worked with Newcastle University’s architecture department, it is great to expand that relationship.”

Professor Andrew Burton, Acting Head of Newcastle University’s School of Arts and Cultures, said: “It is fantastic for our students to be able to contribute to Kielder’s wonderful Art and Architecture programme. The art has been created by students ranging from those in their first year to those studying for Masters degrees and for them to be able to deliver installations that sit in this stunning environment is incredibly rewarding as we look forward to building upon our relationship with the Kielder team.”

Guests, including members of the Kielder community and local dignitaries, were taken from Kielder Castle to the Fiona Curran artwork, and given an opportunity to walk along the Duchess Trail, taking in the student work.

Published: Monday 11/07/2016

By Visit Northumberland

Places in this article

Picnic bench
Kielder Castle Visitor Centre
NE48 1ER

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Kielder Water & Forest Park is now closed to the visiting public Well as the Forest Drive

The health and welfare of the public is extremely important to us here at Kielder Water & Forest Park and the steps being taken by our partners are designed to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus disease, in line with government advice.

Forestry England has just announced ALL their recreation facilities across England will close at 23.59 on 22 March.  This includes all Kielder Forest facilities including public toilets at Kielder Castle and Dukes Pantry.


Kielder Castle is the visitor centre for Kielder Forest. Features include information centre, tearoom and exhibitions about forestry and conservation. Bike hire available.


Kielder castle
Kielder Water & Forest Park
NE48 1BT

Home to Northern Europe's biggest man made lake, the largest working forest in England and the darkest skies in England, Kielder Water & Forest Park is the ideal destination for group travellers.

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