A new community-inspired exhibition exploring the impact of location, isolation, and class on Cumbrian experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic will open next month.
Class, Covid and Cumbria runs from October 22 to February 27 at Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts House and reflects on the past two years and brings Cumbrian communities into the heart of winter programming at Blackwell.
The exhibition will bring a prestigious loan to Cumbria by Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry, a £10,000 textile commission by Cumbrian artist Rosie Galloway-Smith, contemporary and historical images by award-winning photographer Juliet Klottrup and local Joseph Hardman (1893-1972), as well as art created though Lakeland Arts’ MEND project.
Naomi Gariff, programme curator said: “We’re absolutely delighted to introduce an exhibition at Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts House featuring work created by the local community.
“We are committed to representing Cumbrian communities and putting them at the heart of programming at Blackwell.
“Class, Covid & Cumbria is a dynamic programme of displays, commissions and community work that delves into the impact of location, isolation and class on the Cumbrian COVID-19 experience, highlighting a diverse range of voices from across the county.
“This exhibition will act as an important reflection on a historic time in Cumbria and across the UK. Through our collaborations with Rosie, Juliet, the MEND project and our collection, we can record experiences of this time before they are forgotten.”
Grayson Perry’s work will be used as a foundation to the exhibition, before going on to explore how social backgrounds and rural locality affected the Cumbrian experience of the pandemic.
Perry’s The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012, on loan from the Currell Collection, is an intricate and thought-provoking tapestry exploring class mobility and the idea that where we start in life can significantly impact where might end up.
Rosie’s work is the largest single artist commission at Blackwell for more than a decade and will link personal experience and stories of people across the region through a unique textile display.
As part of her research, Rosie is inviting people across Cumbria to share their personal stories and experiences of the pandemic though an online questionnaire.
Inspired by the intricate detail of Blackwell’s interiors, Rosie will interpret these stories through a series of bespoke patterns printed on items of clothing and will use the weather to create a thought-provoking experience.
She said: “I’m really excited to work with Lakeland Arts and to be able to create a meaningful piece of work in response to Cumbria’s COVID experience.
“I’m looking forward to receiving responses to my questionnaire and really understanding how this difficult period has affected people in the county.”
Her work will open to the public on Thursday November 18.
A key feature of Class, Covid & Cumbria will be a display of community art created through Lakeland Arts’ MEND project and photography of Cumbria’s past and present by local photographers Joseph Hardman and Juliet Klottrup.
Juliet is a young Cumbrian photographer and visual artist based in Penrith.
Her work explores the experience of youth in rural Cumbria, with a particular focus on the young farming community.
Her dynamic and refreshing portraiture won her the prestigious Portrait of Britain 2020 award from the British Journal of Photography. Alongside photography by Joseph Hardman, her work within the exhibition will reflect the lived experiences of Cumbrian’s during the pandemic.
The MEND project connects people through creative collaboration and shared experiences. The project launched while its venues were closed, as Lakeland Arts sought to create authentic experiences to mend objects and local communities during their time of need.
Community art created by Cumbrian shielders and young carers, children from The Mud Wood Club in Ulverston, members of the Ulverston Food Waste Project and Kendal’s Integrated Care Communities will be displayed in the Blackwell Guild throughout the exhibition.
Class, Covid & Cumbria will be open daily from 10am to 4pm.