Nature | People | Climate | Place

Northumberland National Park Authority is hosting its Future Landscapes Festival at The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre and at locations across Northumberland National Park, encouraging people to explore and consider their own roles in the future of the landscape and give their views on what the National Park could look like.

With a focus on ‘Nature, People, Climate, Place’, Future Landscapes Festival will explore how England’s precious landscapes serve people, nature, industry, and climate. It will include an exhibition from Newcastle University, and a series of thought-provoking discussions and experiences designed to prompt people to think about the role landscape plays in their lives, and what they want the landscape in Northumberland National Park to look like in the future.

There has been a significant rise in people visiting Northumberland National Park over the past 18 months for their physical and mental wellbeing, and to experience the Park’s unique and special landscape following the uncertain and isolating period of the pandemic.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “How we use land is likely to change, possibly dramatically in the next ten years – from farming and food production, to how we tackle climate change and help nature to recover. The Festival has been designed to challenge how we currently see the landscape, and what we, as individuals, can do to protect and preserve the future of what our land is for and how it might look.”

The COP26 summit in Glasgow will be running at the same time as Future Landscapes, so through the Festival Northumberland National Park has an opportunity to highlight its collective ambitions and put Northumberland on the climate change stage.

The Future Landscapes Festival will see a new exhibition hosted at The Sill. The exhibition is in association with Maltings, Arts Council England (ACE) and Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy and Institute for Creative Arts Practice. It features the work of artist Gemma Burditt, who visited and collected interviews from an array of land-based businesses in Northumberland, exploring their relationship with the landscape through their own personal histories and livelihoods. Inspired by 70s architectural collage and the paintings of Bosch, the exhibition consists of a series of flat collage plains coming together to form a larger landscape.

Gemma Burditt said: “I’m delighted to be exhibiting the Future Landscapes installation at The Sill. I couldn’t think of a more perfect venue to be hosting work which aims to inspire the public to question how we use our national landscape, and the role which we all have to play in shaping what we actually see in our surroundings.”

The Festival will also feature Black Nature in Residence, a project funded by Arts Council England, which offers four writers of colour the opportunity to deepen their connection with nature through creativity, taking time and space to look beyond the beauty of the places on their doorstep to discover the hidden stories within. Led by Dr Sheree Mack, the writers will share their work and experiences through a series of podcasts and talks.

Dr Sheree Mack said: “As writer in residence at Northumberland National Park for the Arts Council funded Black Nature in Residence project, I thought it was paramount that the Future Landscapes Programme featured diverse voices who addressed and amplified the root causes of our climate crisis.

“Adding diverse voices to the conversations and discussions around how we will engage with the landscape in the future, links the local to the global and illustrates how we must acknowledge how all are connected.

“We are nature; therefore, everyone’s voice should be present at the table when we are working to find and implement solutions to the crisis.”

The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre and its exhibitions are free to access, and the Future Landscapes Exhibition will be available from Thursday 28 October to Sunday 05 December 2021.

The events, exhibition and activities available as part of the Future Landscapes Festival is for people of all ages and abilities to participate in, to help encourage them to think about their role in the National Park’s landscape and to action the idea of ‘think global act local’. This includes guided walks, family fun activities such as leaf printing and crafts, forest school, soap making, beeswax wrap workshop, talks, podcasts, virtual readings and much more. Visit https://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/whats-on/ for the full programme.