Northumberland National Park Authority has awarded two brand new textile fellowships following a contest that attracted inspirational entries from across the UK.
The two winners of the very first Val Stoddart Textile Fellowships are unveiled as professional artists: 47-year-old Zak Jones from London and 40-year-old Lindsay Duncanson from Newcastle. The fellowship opportunity was launched this year in memory of local textile artist and former teacher, the late Val Stoddart. Val left a legacy donation to the National Park to continue and enhance its work.
The new Textile Fellowships will complement the arts and culture programme that is currently being developed, with support from Arts Council England, by the team behind The Sill – Northumberland National Park’s flagship National Landscape Discovery Centre initiative.
The competition attracted a very high calibre of entries from across the UK. Winners Lindsay and Zak particularly impressed the selection panel with their passion for the project and intriguing mix of ideas – combining innovative techniques and other media, with textiles and embroidery. Both artists will begin their fellowships this year and will spend time in Northumberland National Park developing their practice, working with the community and using the unique and rich landscape and heritage of the Park as their inspiration.
The Textile Fellowships selection panel was made up of a broad mix of arts specialists and representatives from NNPA. Arts curator and consultant, Peter Sharpe, is coordinating the project on behalf of Northumberland National Park Authority and sat on the selection panel.
Peter said: “I’m delighted to be involved in the Val Stoddart Textile Fellowships and it’s great to be announcing the winning artists. The selection panel made a unanimous decision in selecting Lindsay and Zak and we were very impressed with the standard of their work, its unique approach and creative use of textiles, and the passion and enthusiasm they showed. It will be fantastic to see Val’s legacy reflected as this special project progresses, and find the many ways in which we can engage with the wider community and open up art and textiles to so many more people.”
The winning artists
Lindsay Duncanson has a strong background in photography, video, sound and digital imaging, having studied and worked in these mediums since her degree years at Sunderland University. She has worked as an artist for more than 15 years, taking a ‘practice led’ approach to creating work, which responds to spaces, people and locations and invites the audience to re-interpret the way they perceive their environment. Lindsay’s most recent project is ‘Noize-Choir’, an experimental voice choir which is merged with embroidery and sewing.
Lindsay said: “I just feel so lucky and amazed to have won one of the fellowship opportunities. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time in such a vast and beautiful setting, meeting some amazing people. I’ve already been up to the National Park to explore and start thinking about what I might do and will spend time this summer getting to know the area. I’m looking forward to seeing how a sense of sound and digital media might be able to work in parallel with embroidery and textiles.
“I love going out walking, experiencing, sensing the environment and discovering the macro worlds that appear within the bigger picture. It’s those reflections which will inspire and inform my work and I’ll be aiming to make this project as interactive as possible, taking in a variety of different media.
“When I’m working, I tend to travel about in my orange and cream caravan, and I’ll be doing the same during this project. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people around the Park on my travels. I can’t wait to get started – it’s a real privilege to have been selected and have the opportunity to work in such an incredible environment, meeting new people and developing my skills.”
Zak Jones, 47, from London, is an urban artist who works with intriguing craft and fabric methods, including machine techniques and screen-printing. Often, he models his work on the traditional elements of society, but always includes a twist and is known for the unexpected and innovative ways he looks at textiles. He is represented by a gallery in London, exhibiting his work regularly throughout the UK and internationally. He is also a lecturer in fine art at higher and further education levels.
Zak said: "I am looking forward to stepping into the rural landscape and responding to the beautiful National Park. For me, it's about experiencing the heritage of such an epically important historical setting, as well as the beauty of the environment. I will be working closely and collaboratively with the local community, spending time with the people of Northumberland National Park to discover their stories and history.
“My hope is that the final outcome of the project will be one that is developed together with the people of Northumberland, drawing on their skills and creating something which everyone really understands and can engage with – art that benefits both the place and the people.
“As the project develops, I'm also looking forward to including traditional and local materials and techniques, which echo the local flavour and trades of Northumberland National Park. I'm really pleased to have this opportunity and excited to get started later this year."
Panel member, Mandy Roberts, Engagement Officer from NNPA, said: “The high quality of work presented by both artists really stood out in what was a really impressive field of entries. We’re excited to give them both the opportunity to develop their practice, whilst contributing to our aspiration to help visitors enjoy the unique qualities of the National Park. The initiative will also offer communities within and around the Park the opportunity to share creative ideas with Lindsay and Zak as the fellowships progress.”
Glen Sanderson, Chairman of Northumberland National Park, said: “I’d like to pass on my congratulations to both winning artists. In memory of Val Stoddart and her many lasting achievements, the Textile Fellowships will complement other strands of The Sill’s arts programme, funded by Arts Council England.
“The Sill Textile Fellowships provide valuable work experience for talented people to better appreciate our beautiful landscapes whilst assisting the two fellowship artists to enhance their businesses and careers.”
This project will form part of the arts programme of The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, which will be located at the Once Brewed National Park Centre site in the Hadrian’s Wall area of NNP. It aims to inspire people to experience arts and culture in the natural world, across the whole Park, before the attraction is even open for business. The fellowships will form the basis of upcoming workshops, with the potential for an exhibition later this year.
Construction on The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre is expected to begin on site later this year. The activity programme will start in autumn 2015 and The Sill is set to open its doors to the public in summer 2017.