Art – the products of man’s creative activities
Works of art can enhance nature, attract the eye or confound the viewer, they can make grown men cry or laugh, they can cause controversy or become iconic landmarks but mostly they cannot be ignored. Over the last few year new and exciting works of arts have been popping up all over Burnley, from pieces to enhance new buildings to remarkable structures attracting national and international favour – art has changed the landscape dramatically. Add this to the towns existing collections of watercolours, pottery and furniture at Towneley Hall, portraits and textiles at Gawthorpe Hall and contemporary art exhibitions at the Howarth Gallery and you can clearly see there is something for all art lovers.
Art in the Landscape
The splendid views over the town to the hills beyond make a walk for a closer inspection of this amazing artwork an absolute must; follow the Wayside Arts Trail with its carved Lancashire oak marker posts and bricks including a brick kiln by artist Julie Miles for a closer look at this incredible landmark.
It is obvious that there is something about Burnley that is attractive to award-winning architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu as they also returned to design Burnley’s latest public artwork Rain Bow Gate. Located in the heart of Burnley’s new Knowledge Quarter, the design is a bow structure that integrates glass prisms to capture light and create rainbows, evoking a sense of wonder.
Walks and Trails
The most unusual work of art in Burnley is the most difficult to find! ‘Invisible’ is the result of a collaboration between a group of 15 young people from across the borough and UK art collective Greyworld who they commissioned to work with them on Channel 4’s ‘Big Art Project’. A series of invisible paintings at sites around the town centre uncover hidden corners and grey spaces bringing a little wonder and magic to them. Best viewed at dusk, visitors can pick up a trail map to give them a helping hand to uncover this secret art as it is highlighted by ultra-violent lights and projections.
High up in the atrium of the new St. Peter’s health and leisure centre hangs ‘Lightweave’ a delicate and ethereal sphere woven from metal by the artist Liam Curtin. It comes into its element in the evening when it is bathed in coloured light allowing it to stand out boldly against the dark skies around.
‘The LAND Giant’ at Crow Wood by the side of the M65 motorway is a giant willow man designed by artist Serena de la Hey as part of the LAND project undertaken by Mid Pennine Arts. The sculpture comes into its own during the spring and summer when hundreds of bulbs, plants and shrubs bring it alive with colour and greenery.
The galleries at Towneley house a fine collection of art including a portrait of Charles Towneley by Johan Zoffany, three original JMW Turner watercolours and the largest collection of Noel H. Leaver watercolours in the country. As well as the paintings you will find sculptures, 17th century Lancashire Oak furniture, ceramics including Pilkington Royal Lancashire Pottery and contemporary studio pottery as well as the magnificent Whalley Abbey vestments which were brought to the hall in the 16th century and are now extremely rare.
The last member of the family to live at Gawthorpe Hall was the honourable Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, she was an avid needle woman who collected examples of lace, textiles and embroidery from around the world. On her death she left her collection to the National Trust to be exhibited at Gawthorpe, this collection is the finest in the country outside the V&A in London and although it cannot all be viewed at once at least 300 pieces are exhibited each year.
Gawthorpe Hall also houses the North West’s largest collection of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery; mostly dating from the 17th century they show Gawthorpe’s connections to the English Civil War and are of famous people from the time including King Charles II.
A contemporary gallery selling some of the best artwork from the UK’s top publishers. The Haworth Gallery is the only gallery of it’s kind in the UK , unique in that it stocks such a wide spectrum of art from affordable pieces to considered purchases. And it’s not just art that this award winning gallery stocks, they carry jewellery from the countries leading designers including pieces by Shaun Leane and Stephen Webster as well as work from international designers such as George Jensen. On top of all this beautiful sculptures and glassware are on display and a cup of tea or coffee will greet you on arrival.
One of the rising stars of the contemporary British arts scene is Burnley born Liam Spencer – celebrated for his vibrant paintings of the urban landscape. Pieces of his work can be seen in Towneley Hall and, if you are lucky, at Burnley Football Club – one of his favourite subjects.
Award-winning furniture designer John Reeve famous for his ‘Louis’ range for Heal’s was born in Burnley in 1981, his work is frequently mentioned in the top homes magazines and interior design shows.