Framing the Yorkshire Landscape - RSA

Blog: Framing the Yorkshire Landscape


  • Picture of
  • Creativity
  • Youth engagement

Quoted within Baroness Andrews 2013 report on culture and social mobility ‘the arts can open windows for young people to think differently, but someone needs to be there to hold their hands when they jump’. Art project 'Framing the Landscape' by Yorkshire watercolour Artist, Ashley Jackson, aims to open minds to the diverse landscapes, allowing for conceptual ideas to extend from the landscape to the classroom.

The concept is simple but effective; by constructing a permanent free standing, oversized metal picture frame with the University of Huddersfield and installing it at specific locations in the countryside, the 'landscape of Yorkshire is firmly placed in the frame’, allowing visitors to gain a greater understanding of both the surrounding landscape and an artist’s view point.

The project also provides opportunity to engage with schools and young children, to become a significant reference in protecting the landscape for future generations.

Framing the Landscape March 2015 Wessenden Head Marsden Moor

Nature can be far more interactive than a mobile phone, the internet or online games - we just need to show children how. We need to assist children in making this connection with the landscape for they will be the next guardians, which is why with the assistance of the University of Huddersfield we have created a smartphone application to converse with young people through the technology they understand.

Alongside a website, Facebook, Twitter and instagram updates, Framing the Landscape aims to 'speak' to those that might not normally visit the many diversely dynamic landscapes that surround us.   

 'Many people look but only a few see'.

My aim is  to re-engage not only local communities but visitors to the County to ‘see’ how great the landscape is and value its worth as an art gallery that is free for us all to enjoy. We really want people to get out there, leave the car behind and view the landscape whilst walking with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair – how better to absorb nature.

I wish to pass on this passion I have for Yorkshire and the landscape to inspire others to explore and enjoy all that nature has provided. You cannot smell the wet heather, hear the skylark as she circles to protect her eggs or feel the atmosphere change as rain approaches from a screen; all of these can only be felt by using our senses out in the great Cathedral of the open air. The frame locations are safe, accessible and near to walking trails... I encourage you to visit Yorkshire and make time for nature!

There are now four frames; in partnership with the National Trust at Marsden Moor, Hardcastle Crags and Brimham Rocks, whilst Yorkshire Water has provided permission at Holme Moss, each has been sponsored rather than publicly funded.

Ashley Jackson launches frame at Hardcastle Crags

As an artist I have been fortunate to view the moors with an honest clarity - the drama of the sky with an approaching storm, the crispness of fresh fallen snow under foot or the damp chill of drizzling rain. The landscape is more than a passing view from a car window, it is our heritage, culture and more personally it forms part of our thoughts and feelings. There is so much for us to appreciate, enjoy, embrace and be inspired by, if we choose to see.

Schools that have visited the frame at Wesenden Head Marsden include Yeadon Westfield Junior School and Wooldale Junior School.

'Framing the landscape was a fantastic experience for the children. It gave them the ability to focus in on parts of the moors and really take in the spectacular scenery. The opportunity to see the changing light on the hills and the colour changes it brought was unbelievable. Some children never get the chance to experience the countryside around us and we feel very privileged to have had this chance. Adapting the idea of the frame: creating their own small, portable frames out of cardboard and using them to find different perspectives and focal points for drawings closer to home. They were excited by the big frame, so that excitement has transferred to the small frames.’

 Denise Basson (Yeadon Westfield Junior School). 

The focal point of the frame can also be extended across the curriculum in line with Sir Nicholas Serota's statement: 'By making art a part of the national curriculum, we give the next generation of artists, designers, engineers, creators and cultural leaders the opportunity to develop the imagination and skills that are vital to our future' [Education, Skills and Training]

It has made the children appreciate what’s around them. The ones I took to the frame have already started taking their parents up there, to share the experience with them.

As well as all the wonderful art work, the location lends itself to all sorts of cross-curricular activities. It would be easy to do work on habitat or ecology or to do geography-based work on glaciers and valley formation. It gets children out into the environment. We don’t do that enough.

Rebecca Starrett (Wooldale Junior School).

Thus although the frame is a physical structure it allows for conceptual ideas to extend from the landscape to the classroom.

With a contemporary twist it uses Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and a smart phone app to 'speak to young people in a language that they understand, through a different 'frame'. 

Further frames are planned to extend the Yorkshire vision on to a National landscape.


For more information please visit:

twitter: @framinglandsc

facebook: Framing the Landscape

instagram: framingthelandscape

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