Windermere Jetty

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Just over a week ago we headed up to the Lake District to visit the Windermere Jetty steamboat museum that opened last year. Windermere Jetty is part of Lakeland Arts, so we were able to use our Friends membership to gain entry. The collection of boats is housed in a brand new purpose built modern building.

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The museum has a collection of 40 vessels that tell the story of boating on Windermere from 1780 to the present day. There’s a conservation centre, where boats are repaired and renovated, a waterside cafe looking over the lake and mountains and they also run Heritage Boat Trips out on the lake on board Osprey, a restored Edwardian steam launch.

On arrival we booked our place on a boat trip (there’s an extra charge for this) and then had a look around the main exhibition spaces.

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The collection includes examples of steam launches – pleasure boats owned by wealthy families – power boats used for racing and setting speed records on the lakes, and working boats

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Steam launch Branksome, built in 1896.
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An old rowing boat

Th Steam Boat Dolly was built around 1850/60. Originally on Windermere it was transferred to Ullswater where it sank in 1895. It was salvaged in 1962 and then restored.

Steamboat Dolly

And here’s Beatrix Potter’s flat bottomed rowing boat!

Beatrix Potter’s rowing boat
The view from the cafe

We broke our exploration of the collection for our trip on the Osprey, which was built in 1902 in Bowness. Built as a private pleasure boat, from 1948 it was used as a passenger vessel for the Bowness Bay Boating Company.

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It was a perfect morning for a boat trip. The lake was calm, the sun was shining, the air was clear so we had excellent views over the mountains of the Fairfield Horseshoe and the Far Eastern Fells, where the high peaks were capped with snow.

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A Windermere Kettle – used for making a brew on board!

After a good hour on the water the Osprey returned tot he Jetty

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After disembarking, we had a bite to eat in the cafe, enjoying the views through the large windows and then finished our tour of the museum. We had a look at the Conservation workshop

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We had a look at the old boat that was on display outside the workshop. We couldn’t go inside but were able to look through the large windows where we could see a couple of the staff hard at work.

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We then passed through the boat yard, where there were a couple of larger boats on display and then on into the boat house.

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There were more boats from the collection inside the boathouse, together with other privately owned boats that were moored up.

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Jane a very glamorous speedboatt built in 1937
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Two small boats used in the film of Swallows and Amazons

After looking round the boat house we went back into the main gallery for a final look. We’d spent a good 3 hours in the museum and it’s somewhere we’ll certainly be going back to in the future.

Memorious Earth: A Longitudinal Study

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Last July, when we were on holiday in the Lake District, we visited and enjoyed an exhibition at Dove Cottage in Grasmere – The Walking Poets – inspired by William Wordsworth and the Japanese master of the Haiku, Basho. It featured older manuscripts books together with works by contemporary artists in various media.

Two of these artists were Richard Skelton and Autumn Richardson who are partners and collaborators, who both had two works included in the exhibition. I was intrigued by their work, which formed pictures from words –  and afterwards did a little research to find out more about them.

Richard Skelton, who originates from Standish, just up the road from here, is an artist, musician and writer and produces visual works formed from words and “found objects”.  Autumn Richardson is a Canadian poet who also produces visual works. Together they have produced ‘Field Notes’, a series of poetic place-studies published as pamphlets by their own Corbel Stone Press. They also edit and publish ‘Reliquiae’, an annual journal of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, translations and visual art.

Some of Richards’s works were inspired by the West Lancashire Moors, specifically Anglezarke, very much my “stomping ground”, so I ended up buying, and enjoying a couple of his books. So I was particularly keen to see the exhibition of their works which extends across Blackwell and Abbot Hall and which opened recently.

Their work is ‘informed’ rather than ‘inspired’ by landscape. It is not impressionistic, but the result of extensive research into specific places, topographies, ecologies and histories. Pages from their book-works frequently spill with word-lists drawn from varied sources: pollen diagrams, dialect glossaries, cartographic records, archaeological tracts

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The exhibition, features works inspired by their home in a remote part of south west Cumbria.  It includes

music, film, books, pamphlets, prints, artefacts and assemblages that engage with the natural history of this landscape, from the post-glacial wasteland to the present day.

So it’s a “multi-media” exhibition. Many of the works , in books and prints, are “poem-pictures” or “picture-poems” where the words and letters are arranged to create patterns and images that are representative of the theme of the poem. The visual work is often accompanied with a piece of music

Limnology, for example, which is displayed at Blackwell, a book accompanied by a print and music

The book assembles over 1000 ‘water-words’ from the dialect of Cumbria and its tributaries in the Germanic and Celtic languages, presenting them in a way which typographically imitates riverine processes.

Letters cascade down the page, overlap, merge and gather, forming pools and streams. Intermingled with these visual pieces are poems and texts which explore, among other things, water creation myths, the roles of water creatures, both real and imagined, and the paradox of waterless rivers.

This print of one of the images in the book looks like a waterfall of words and letters

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At Abbot Hall “Relics” is a series of prints each one with an image formed by different words used for a specific tree arranged in a  circular pattern, like tree rings.

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The work is inspired by the deforested landscape  around Devoke Water in south-west Cumbria where names related to the landscape refer to the names of the trees that were once there:

Birker Fell (birch), Linbeck (lime), Rowantree How (rowan), Storthes (brushwood), Withy Bottom (willow), Woodend & Wood Knotts

The artists have also collected various objects from the landscape – for example, fragments of bark, bone, twigs, leaves, seeds, pods, roots, animal pellets –  some of which are displayed in conjunction with their word works.

Relics, Richard Skelton & Autumn Richardson, 2013 ©Richard Skelton & Autumn Richardson

1337, RIchard Skelton & Autumn RIchardson, 2014 ©Richard Skelton & Autumn Richardson

Richard Skelton was also given access to the collection of artefacts held by the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry (Also run by the Lakeland Arts Trust). From this he created the ‘Museum of Ferae Naturae’, produced in collaboration with the Notional Research Group for Cultural Artefacts.

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One of the rooms at Abbot Hall has been devoted to this exhibition.

The museum will explore the customary persecution and exploitation of animal life in Cumbria, offering alternate historic, mythic and folkloric contexts for these artefacts which imply different attitudes towards the natural world.

Carefully selected objects are displayed in glass cases together with related texts.

Hare Stone ©Richard Skelton

There’s a catalogue of the works on display at both locations together with photographs here.

I thought it was a marvellous exhibition, reinforcing my appreciation of the work of Richard Skelton and Autumn Richardson. There was too much to take in in one viewing so we intend to return, especially as there are other exhibitions at both locations we enjoyed and would like to see again – a display of pots by Emilie Taylor and two rooms devoted to work by the Boyle family “collective” whose art also is inspired by landscape – Boyle Family: Contemporary Archaeologyat Abbot Hall