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19 Jul 2019 – 4 Aug 2019

Bales Hush

Bishop Auckland
England, United Kingdom


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A temporary artwork on a vast scale will go on show this summer and will highlight the way people have influenced the North Pennines landscape.


The North Pennines AONB Partnership has commissioned international landscape artist, Steve Messam to produce ‘Hush’, an outdoor installation inspired by the geology, mining history and landscape of the area. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, the piece will be on show this summer at Bales Hush, an old lead mining site on the Raby Estate in Upper Teesdale, County Durham. 

Based in Upper Teesdale close to the site of this new artwork, Steve Messam is a renowned environmental artist who produces large-scale temporary works in landscapes around the world. His work will transform Bales Hush for just 17 days, between 19 July and 4 August. ‘Hush' will give a dramatic emphasis to this feature of the landscape, created when miners worked the hillside by hand to expose a mineral vein, then flushed the area with water to further reveal the geological riches below. Now blending into its surroundings, the hush is a vast gouge in the landscape measuring over 400m long and up to 20m deep. Steve’s artwork will fill the space with 5 kilometres of recyclable saffron yellow fabric, forming hundreds of suspended sails. An immersive artwork, visitors will be able to view the piece from above as well as explore the hush below. This is a monumental artwork on a scale in keeping with the vast landscapes of the North Pennines. Remnants of a lead mining past, like Bales Hush, can be seen right across the uplands of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark.
Steve Messam said:

“It’s exciting to be able to make an artwork on this scale, particularly in such a vast and wild environment. The way the piece moves with the wind and the effect of the colour on such a scale is particularly exciting – it will look very different depending on the time of day and the weather."

 Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said:

“We’re delighted to announce our collaboration with Steve Messam on this new work. We know that art in the landscape helps people engage with and understand their surroundings, and this piece will help tell a story of the North Pennines’ lead mining past and also of the landscape as we see it now. We are looking forward to welcoming people to visit Hush over the summer.

“We're grateful to Barry Iceton, who farms this land, and to Raby Estate, for how helpful they've been to us in developing this work with Steve.”

Information on how to see Hush, starting from the AONB Partnership’s Bowlees Visitor Centre, will be published on the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s social media channels and on www.northpennines.org.uk/hush.

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Exhibiting artists

Steve Messam


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