PRESS RELEASE: Leading artists to share the impact of the pandemic

PRESS RELEASE: Leading artists to share the impact of the pandemic

A group of leading artists, including Andy Goldsworthy, is collaborating with Ryedale Folk Museum to explore the impact of the previous 12 months on artists and their creative practice. It will culminate in an open exhibition in September, bringing together professionals, amateurs and hobbying artists in response to the northern landscape.

The project, funded by Arts Council England, grew out of a strong awareness of the lack of access to the natural environment in adherence to the Government’s Stay Home message at the height of the pandemic. Like everyone else, artists found their travel restricted during a series of lockdowns.

Land artist Andy Goldsworthy’s latest project on the North York Moors developed from conditions created by the pandemic. ‘Southfield House’ is part of Goldsworthy’s quest to explore the environment through natural materials. “It was conceived during lockdown and made between lockdowns,” says Goldsworthy. “I wanted to make something during that period that has that sense of being uplifting. The work is now connected to that moment in time.”

Goldsworthy is one of six artists to feature in a series of videos, created by landscape painter Kane Cunningham, and also including photographer Joe Cornish, landscape painter Peter Hicks, photographer Tessa Bunney, sculptor Peter Coates and painter Francesca Simon. The videos will be shared throughout May and June

“At its heart, the project is an opportunity for artists to share their experiences and to encourage others who may have seen significant changes to their output because of Covid-19,” explains Ryedale Folk Museum’s Director, Jennifer Smith.

“Through Kane Cunningham’s films, we are seeing honest and open discussions about the challenges – and, sometimes, the opportunities – faced by the artistic community.

“Situated within the North York Moors National Park, we needed only to look outside the museum window to realise that there was nobody here during lockdown. One question that interested us was what impact that was having on artists who respond directly to the landscape and who make their living from that inspiration,” says Smith.

The partnership with Kane Cunningham was a natural one.

“For 20 years, I’ve travelled from Scarborough to St. Bees, coast to coast,” explains Cunningham. “In a normal year, my art takes me over hill and dale and across mountain pathways to find the perfect view.”

The sense of loss during lockdown led to a desire to reach out to others on this theme: “I felt the need to discover more about the landscape and what it means to me and other artists in these challenging times. Has it changed the way they think about their work? Has it changed the way they think about the landscape?”

The Museum hopes that sharing the contemplations of other artists will inspire people to create new work or reflect on a piece created since the start of the pandemic, to feature in the open exhibition of two- and three-dimensional work from September. The submission window opens this week until 30 June, with the selection panel to include Cunningham, Joe Cornish and ceramic artist Layla Khoo.

Artists and other creative practitioners, of any artform, are also invited to send their own brief film clips (less than a minute long) to be shared on social media, responding to the question: ‘How has your creative practice changed in the last 12 months?’

Full details can be found on the museum’s website.

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Media contact: Jeannie Swales on 07968 953737 or [email protected]

Note to Editors

Nestled in the beautiful village of Hutton-le-Hole in the North York Moors National Park, Ryedale Folk Museum is Yorkshire’s leading open-air museum. Together, more than 40,000 objects and 20 heritage buildings, beautifully displayed over a six-acre site, bring to life the history and lives of ordinary people from Ryedale.


The project has been supported by funding from Arts Council England, the national development agency for creativity and culture.

A note from Arts Council England: We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Funds. Find out more at

With thanks to the David Ross Foundation, which has commissioned Andy Goldsworthy’s new work.

Artists’ biographies

Tessa Bunney

For over 25 years, Tessa Bunney has photographed rural life, working closely with individuals and communities to investigate how the landscape is shaped by humans – from fishermen in Morecambe Bay to ice swimmers in Finland, her projects reveal the dependencies between people, work and the land.

Peter Coates

With a background in architectural sculpture and stone carving, Peter Coates has produced an extensive range of work since establishing his studio in 1994, responding to the environment and displaying an inventive design sensibility. Now based in North Yorkshire, a prestigious NESTA Fellowship has allowed him to explore diverse materials.

Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish has lived and worked close to the North York Moors, photographing the North Yorkshire landscape for over 20 years while continuing to work overseas. With a keen awareness of environmental concerns, he has been drawn to wilderness ever since his formative trip to Alaska in the early 1990s, as the official photographer on a Raleigh International expedition.

Kane Cunningham

A landscape artist, painting in watercolour and following in the tradition of J.M.W. Turner, Kane Cunningham’s work takes him across the UK and Europe. He is currently working on an artist’s companion guide to Wales, Scotland and Ireland and painting large-scale watercolours in extreme and remote locations.

Andy Goldsworthy

Internationally known for his site-specific land art, Andy Goldsworthy creates sculptures which respond to their location, viewing his works as collaborations with nature. His sculptures emphasise the unique qualities of the natural materials and their relationships with place. In response to the ephemerality of his artwork, he often photographs it upon completion.

Peter Hicks

Landscape painter Peter Hicks takes inspiration from the landscapes and seascapes of North Yorkshire and Northumbria. For 20 years he was head of creative arts at Queen Elizabeth College in Darlington, before retiring early to paint. Now in his eighties, he continues to work from his studio in Danby in the North York Moors.

Layla Khoo

A multimedia 3D artist, Layla Khoo specialises in ceramics and site-specific installations. Her work responds to ideas, events and collections of objects. She often selects ceramics for their familiarity and for their broad range of historical connotations, from everyday tableware to satire and sculpture.

Francesca Simon

A painter with an instinct for geometry and pattern-making, Francesca Simon often explores a fascination with three-dimensional effects worked onto the flat plane of a canvas, with her route into abstraction stemming from the topography and field shapes of North Yorkshire.