A multi-partner project comprising 6 mixed length artist residencies. With an engagement programme of workshops, open days and sharing days the programme will culminate in 2021 with an exhibition and a publication.

Through the artists’ practice, different aspects of what makes a ‘place’ will be explored and the interconnectedness of rural land and rural lives revealed. Artists are open to respond to the theme in the broadest sense and could investigate people, animals and the landscape (that link in to current research conversations around ‘human’ & ‘non-human’ relationships), marks left by old industries and new technologies, issues such as sustainable energy, access and re-wilding, changes in farming practices, skills and traditions, current expressions of culture and community and how new environmental conditions affect people and nature alike.

Artist residencies based in a number of venues in the community of Tarset and North Tyne (Kielder Village, Unison Colour, Tarset Village Hall and The Heritage Centre at Bellingham) as well at VARC (Highgreen) will encourage closer, direct working with people and material. The hosts and venues are as follows:

Year 1: 
Based at VARC (Highgreen) 10 months (June 2019 – April 2020) Artist Sam Douglas in post

Based at Kielderhead Wildwood Project (Northumberland Wildlife Trust) 1 month (April 2020) Here for more details and to apply via CuratorSpace

Based at Unison Colour 1 month (May 2020) Here for more details and to apply via CuratorSpace

Year 2:
Based at VARC (Highgreen) 10 months (June 2020 – April 2021) Here for more details and to apply via CuratorSpace
Based at Tarset Village Hall 1 month (May – June 2021) Here for more details and to apply via CuratorSpace
Based at The Heritage Centre at Bellingham 1 month (June – July 2021) Here for more details and to apply via CuratorSpace

ENTWINED: Rural. Land. Lives. Art. will encourage artists to draw on and contribute to the rich and previously under-explored sources of material and wealth of knowledge held by the many groups and organisations supporting the programme. Whilst the focus will be on an examination of Tarset and the North Tyne, artists’ exploration will be rhizomatic in methodology as artists follow threads of investigation accessing archives, libraries and collections locally and across the region. Skill sharing and partnership working is crucial and artists selected will affirm this approach.

Public of all ages will share in and contribute to a conversation about an ecology of place with regard to Tarset and the North Tyne but also, through connections, that is larger than the local with potential to link to similar projects and communities elsewhere in the UK and world-wide.

VARC is pleased to be working in partnership with:

Unison Colour, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Tarset Village Hall, The Heritage Centre at Bellingham, Newcastle University (Institute for Creative Arts Practice and Centre for Rural Economy), Northumbria University (Visual Arts and Material Culture Research Group), Sunderland University (Walking, Art, Landskip and Knowledge Research Group), Northumberland County Council, Northumberland National Park, Art Circuit, Northumberland Archives, Natural History Society of Northumbria, Tarset Archive Group and Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust.


First artist and next call out:

We are delighted to share news that Sam Douglas will take up the first 10 month residency at Highgreen and will arrive at the end of June. Douglas works in a tradition of the British visionary landscape painters and spends a large amount of his time travelling, sketching and painting outdoors.

‘I am very excited to have this opportunity to immerse myself in the study of the Northumberland landscape. I plan on being outside exploring, drawing and painting as much as possible so as to come into contact with the local inhabitants – be they human, mammal, insect or otherwise. The support of the project partners I feel will enable a deeper enquiry into the layers of history, ecology and other factors, which I hope will combine to make a particular equation of elements in my work.’
Sam Douglas, March 2019

The call out for the remaining 5 residencies are now live on CuratorSpace, see the links above.


The project’s beginnings and VARC’s reasons for developing it:

The theme for the programme began with ideas from Mike Pratt, CEO of Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and Cynthia Morrison-Bell, independent art curator and Chair of VARC Trustees. Mike Pratt talked of an ecology of place that was about people’s relationship with nature and place as well as about habitat and species, and an enquiry as to whether art could help an understanding of this. With a germ of an idea for themed artist residencies around this, Cynthia Morrison-Bell suggested that VARC develop the concept and basis for artists’ contribution to this field with the inspiring quote of artist Jenny Holzer ‘All things are delicately interconnected’. Since then the project idea has been developed by VARCs Janet Ross and shaped in conversation with the many partners.

The project has been made possible thanks to Arts Council England National Lottery Funding and support of the partner organisations.