“The great thing about doing something for the second time is that you are not starting from scratch and you have something to show potential sponsors,” says Lorna Bird, organiser of the first Ilkley Art Trail which took place last autumn, running during the town’s annual Literature Festival.
The Art Trail was a huge success and this year has attracted more artists, sponsors and venues.
“Last year we had 33 artists and this year we have 48 exhibiting from around the region,” says Lorna.
“What is really nice is that all the artists who are taking part this year, who also participated last year, are showing new collections of work – and we also have fifty percent more artists.”
This year’s trail has been very well supported by local businesses who can see the value of a cultural event that attracts more visitors to the town. “We have a number of local patrons who have either donated money or given us help in kind,” says Lorna. “The level of support we have received has been really quite moving.” The Parish Council provided the funds for banners around the town and Bradford Council has part-funded the publicity budget.
The trail’s mission, as stated in the programme, is to ‘bring great art to everyone’ and to showcase visual artists in the region, bringing their work to the attention of people who may not otherwise see it. ‘‘The Trail is free and you will find a welcome at all the venues,” says Lorna.
“While the artists are selling their work, they will all have affordable pieces and there is absolutely no obligation to buy. As much as anything, the trail is for people to see and experience a range of artwork.’’
The artists will show their work over 28 venues around Ilkley, Addingham, Burley Woodhead and Nesfield and include studios, shops, pubs and more unusual spaces such as an architect’s office, a solicitor’s and an osteopath’s practice. “We were approached by quite a few new places offering space this year,” says Lorna. “It’s been really heartening to see how much people value the arts.” New venues include the Craiglands Hotel, Christchurch and Ilkley’s attractive Victorian Arcade.
“There is a wide range of media represented again,” says Lorna. “We have painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, watercolours, print-making and silkscreens, jewellery, wood, pastels and charcoal. One of my highlights is a big sculpture called Man and Machine by Kate Johnson that was created in collaboration with Bradford University engineering department. It is a traditional Romanesque man’s torso, slightly bigger than life-size, but it is made out of donated sheets of translucent industrial perspex.
“Last year Kate exhibited some paintings on the trail but because of our new venue in the Victorian Arcade I had the opportunity to install a large piece which I am really excited about.”
Looking to the future, Lorna says she would like to expand the range of work for visitors to experience to include experimental and live art.
However, her main objective “to establish the trail as a necessary annual cultural event” seems well on its way to being realised.
Ilkley Art Trail, October 6-14, various venues www.ilkleyarttrail.org.uk Trail guides are available online or from local shops, cafes and hotels and at the Tourist Information Office.