Past Creative Projects
The English Heritage Creative Programme aims to produce outstanding artistic commissions, interventions and projects that imaginatively engage with England’s history.
While the official programme launched in 2022, over the years we have been privileged to work on a number of collaborations with emerging and established artists, local communities and other creative organisations to produce art commissions, site-specific works, sound installations, exhibitions, performances and events at our sites across the country.
Below is a taste of some of these past projects.
For the British Textile Biennial 2023, collaborative artists Nick Jordan and Jacob Cartwright presented a new film installation, Larksong, in Goodshaw Chapel. Larksong featured a new poem by Emily Oldfield and a musical score by musicians and artists David Chatton Barker, Mary Stark, Sam McLouglin, and Bridget Hayden.
Upstairs in the chapel, Cartwright and Jordan presented a new series of printed calico fabrics featuring images of local wild plants with historic ties to textiles production and printed with woad.Learn More
Off Centre, 2023
Off-Centre was a dance performance at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, on the 20th and 21st May 2023. The event kicked off the Creative Programme’s dance stream in the form of a new work by British dance artist/choreographer Phil Sanger.
Phil developed a new dance piece ’Ramped’ which connected with feelings of being forgotten, connectedness and ‘statues’ and which was responsive to audiences. Dancers from the We Are Ramped performance art company adlibbed and responded to the movement of the visitors as well as being directly responsive to the site. Live music and audio description accompanied the performance.
Off-Centre was supported by the Arts Council England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Future Belongs to What Was As Much As What Is, 2023
An art installation produced by internationally renowned British artist and designer Morag Myerscough and in collaboration with the local community and poet Ellen Moran. It was created on the site of the original gatehouse at Housesteads Roman Fort in 2022 during the 1900th anniversary celebrations of Hadrian’s Wall.
Visitors were able to go inside the artwork and climb the stairs to the first floor to experience a view that hasn’t been seen since the Roman garrison kept watch here 1600 years ago.Learn More
Wait Here (Double Line), 2021
Wait Here (Double Line) was a temporary site-specific artwork by artist Tim Etchells displayed at Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks, Northumberland, in 2021.
Visible above the gatehouse entrance of the historic barracks Etchells displayed a text-based neon artwork that read ‘Wait Here I Have Gone to Get Help’.
The work invoked an imaginary situation of peril and a fictitious mission to gather support. Long a home for troops on call for missions further north or abroad, the Barracks is recast by Etchells as the location for another kind of story about danger and the need for caution or defence.
The artwork was commissioned by Berwick Visual Arts and supported by the Berwick Welcome Visitor Project.Learn more
Painting our Past, 2021
In 2021 English Heritage commissioned a series of portraits depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to England’s rich history. Each artist was supported by our curators and historians to creatively portray their subject.
In Ruins, 2019
In Ruins was a 2019 art exhibition at Witley Court, Worcestershire. Contemporary artworks inhabited the grounds and ruined mansion at Witley and explored our enduring attraction to ruins and how they are relevant today.
In Ruins artworks:
Alex Hartley, Façade, Blank, Plinth; Amélie Labourdette, Empire of Dust; Ellen Harvey, The Disappointed Tourist Shop; Holly Hendry, Take Good Care of My Baby; Jack Evans, CAPITAL; Marchand & Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit; Matthew Darbyshire, Woolworth Tower; Stuart Whipps, Mold 001; Tim Etchells, Everything is Lost.
In Ruins was an exhibition curated and produced by Meadow Arts, delivered in partnership with English Heritage, and supported by Arts Council England.
The Yellow Wallpaper, 2018
In 2018 the Turner Prize-winning artist Susan Philipsz filled Belsay Hall, Northumberland, with her haunting sound installation The Yellow Wallpaper.
Inspired by the intimate yet abandoned spaces of the upstairs bedrooms, Philipsz installed speakers in the chimney flues to project overlapping loops of songs throughout the building. The artist’s voice could be heard curling through the rooms of the hall, coaxing visitors to follow it. A multi-layered and mysterious experience, the visitor gradually became aware of the dark lyrics of the beautifully sung ballad The Unquiet Grave.
The Yellow Wallpaper was commissioned by English Heritage, with funding from Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The work formed part of Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience, a collaborative research project based at Newcastle and Leeds universities.Read more
Weighty Friend, 2015
Weighty Friend was a site-specific artwork and live event by artist Faye Claridge at Iron Bridge, Shropshire, in 2015.
Claridge created a unique intervention made of 2.4km of colourful rags on the historic Iron Bridge, the world’s first iron bridge, built across Ironbridge Gorge. The installation was created with the help of 50 volunteers including Quakers, foundry workers, families and tourists. The bridge, dressed in its own ‘tatter coat’, was a reference to the traditions of Morris Dancers and how women’s work supported the Industrial Revolution.
The event was created with support from Meadow Arts and Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and was commissioned by English Heritage.
Video: Faye Claridge, ‘Weighty Friend’, October 2015. © Rajinder Sidhu