Simon Hitchens Returns to Cheeseburn with Brand New Installation

Simon Hitchens returns to Cheeseburn with ‘Thinking Beyond Rock’ on 29/30 June and 6/7 July.

Cheeseburn welcomes art lovers back to its Sculpture Gardens in June and July for the continuation of its open weekends with a brand-new installation by artist Simon Hitchens.

Simon describes himself as a sculptor whose practise is multi-disciplinary; he believes that rock is the material and conceptual backbone of his work. Simon uses drawing techniques to work out and clarify his concepts before committing to his large sculpture works.

Over the next two of Cheeseburn’s open weekends, Simon will be showing drawings from his collection, ‘Thinking Beyond Rock’. The illustrations have been created by tracing the shadows of a rock over the course of an entire day.

Says Simon, “The natural world is an endless source of inspiration to me, and a direct tool I use to create my work. For example, the current body of work I am pursuing requires sunlight as the source for image-making, drawing shadows cast by a rock between sunrise and sunset. The resultant drawings are unique in time and space to a given location on the planet, recording the relentless rotation of the earth beneath our feet.”

The drawings from Simon’s ‘Thinking Beyond Rock’ collection will be available to purchase at Cheeseburn over the June and July open weekends.

Also included in the installation is ‘Genesis’, a looped film which features a benign boulder sat in an arcane landscape which slowly begins to take on human qualities; listen carefully and visitors will hear slow, deep breaths. The film encourages its viewers to take time to immerse themselves within the landscape, as they may notice intimate physical changes within the rock.

Simon was recently chosen as the winning artist for The Elizabeth Landmark project. The project team are currently seeking planning permission from Northumberland County Council to erect a 55-metre-high monument to Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth on the Ray Estate.

As part of his installation at Cheeseburn, Simon has included a maquette of his winning landmark design, ‘Ascendant’.

“I hope the exhibition gives a great insight into Simon’s fascination with stone and the sun and shows the link between his studio practice and his ambitious Elizabeth Landmark proposal,” says Matthew Jarratt, curator at Cheeseburn.

Also available to enjoy on the upcoming open weekends will be dance performances from North East dancer Lizzie J Klotz.

Lizzie returns to Cheeseburn after performing at the 2018 open weekends with artist Joseph Hillier on his exhibition entitled ‘Pause/Play’, which looked at the art of movement. Lizzie also performed her original work ‘Fawn’ at Cheeseburn last year, which looked at the act of pleasing as an instinctive response to fear, threat and failure.

Performing across Cheeseburn’s ten acres of lands, Lizzie J Klotz’s dance performance will interact with the world class sculpture found at the sculpture park.

Exclusive to the July open weekends, visitors can enjoy special performances of Stabat Mater. Led by Bennett Hogg, composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, performed by The William Shield Chamber and directed by John Traherne MBE. Julie Gill and Rachel Rew of the Fenham Ensemble will perform as soprano and mezzo, respectively.

Based on a poem created by a thirteenth-century Franciscan monk which describes the emotional anguish of the Virgin Mary as she stands at the foot of the cross and the physical sufferings of Christ himself, Stabat Mater will be performed in Cheeseburn’s Chapel of St Francis Xavier.

Visitors on Saturday 6 July will be able to witness an open rehearsal from 12 pm with the ability to interact with the orchestra for a question and answer session.

On Sunday 7 July, the orchestra will perform the piece four times, beginning at 12:30 pm.

Cheeseburn visitors will also have another chance to view ‘Nostalgie de la boue: Plastic Friend’ a new installation piece by Newcastle University graduate Clare Townley, the winner of last year’s Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculpture Award, and the recipient of the £6,500 commission.

With ‘Nostalgie de la boue: Plastic Friend’ Townley has transformed a group of trees at Cheeseburn with a series of long, sinewy, sprawling sculptures, mimicking the garlands and vines found so often in the natural world; in sharp contrast, the installation is made entirely of recycled plastic, in an attempt to highlight the impact of plastics on the environment. The installation also includes a swing-seat for visitors to experience.

Elsewhere at Cheeseburn, discover David Mach’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. This playful installation features garden gnomes causing mayhem at Cheeseburn – brandishing leaf blowers and hedge cutters and ransacking upturned cars.

Mach, who currently has work on show in the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition, dares visitors to enter the woods and experience his installation. Challenging the notion that contemporary art can’t be humorous, Mach hopes that visitors to Cheeseburn will be entertained by the mischievous gnomes.

With over 70 sculptures in the gardens this year, 25% of which are brand new, there is a lot to discover at Cheeseburn in June and July, including artist Erin Dickson’s glass chandelier which is exhibited in The Stables gallery, and local business Becky Mackenzie Ceramics who return to Cheeseburn’s Design Arch, selling their bespoke ceramic wares.

“We are excited to welcome visitors back to Cheeseburn for our June and July open weekends. With interactive installations such as ‘Nostalgie de la boue: Plastic Friend’ and performances from Lizzie J Klotz, there is much to experience this summer at Cheeseburn,“ says owner, Joanna Riddell.

On the 30 June, all donations made to Cheeseburn upon entrance will be donated to the British Red Cross, which helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. The British Red Cross provides a range of services in the North East which includes first aid, crisis response, mobility aids and refugee services.