A STUNNING VISUAL ARTWORK which has been a big hit with visitors to Upper Teesdale is nearing the end of its stay, and people are being urged to take their last chance to see and photograph it.
Natural Creation, which was commissioned by the North Pennines AONB Partnership with funding from the National Lottery, was created by artist Rob Mulholland. It will be in place near to Low Force waterfall in Teesdale until 11 October. Made up of a series of highly polished stainless steel sculptures, the piece responds to the geology of this part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark. It aims to bring to life a 320 million year old geological story in the beautiful landscape of Teesdale. Human figures mingle with geometrical shapes which echo the shape of the Whin Sill, sections of which emerge from the landscape to create some of its most distinctive features.
The sculptures have been a very popular feature over the summer months, with people visiting from far afield. Photographers have been particularly keen, sharing their images on social media. Two striking images were featured in the Times and Telegraph newspapers, as well as in the local and regional press.
The National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), have supported Natural Creation as part of a programme of new work celebrating and building on the North Pennines’ UNESCO Global Geopark designation. Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will receive £376,200 over three years. Natural Creation was also supported by Arts Council England.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “The response to Natural Creation has been overwhelmingly positive and we are delighted that it has helped to bring people to the North Pennines and connects them with the geology and the landscape.
“We hope that over the next couple of weeks people who haven’t seen it will take the opportunity to visit. Those who have seen it over the summer will also be able to revisit the sculptures now that the seasons have begun to change.”
Artist Rob Mulholland said: “Natural Creation celebrates the creative power and majesty of nature. My installation imagines the geological forces shaping and forming the land over millions of years. My aim is to reflect the dynamic forces at play in nature through the representation of the Whin Sill forcing its way through the ground. The mirrored figures represent our innate connection with our natural environment. They stand passively guarding the elements; a vestige of our past and a mirror to our future.”
The geology of Low Force has a story which goes back over 320 million years, to the Carboniferous Period of Earth history. Millions of years of changing climates and environments created alternating layers of limestone and sandstone rock, sometimes with a layer of shale. 295 million years ago, in the early Permian Period, molten magma welled up in the Earth through cracks and fissures in the layered rocks and spread out in a roughly horizontal layer between the Farne Islands and Teesdale. It never reached the surface (or we’d have had a volcano in the North Pennines) but instead it cooled underground for around 50 years, forming a hard, flat-lying layer that the old miners called the Whin Sill. Over the nearly three hundred million years since then, the rocks above the Whin Sill have been weathered and eroded away by Earth processes. Where the hard, erosion resistant Whin Sill crops out across the course of rivers, it forms the lip of waterfalls like at Low Force and High Force, just upstream.
The installation will be in place on the north bank of the Tees at Low Force until 11 October. Parking is available at the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Bowlees Visitor Centre, with a five to ten minute walk to the artwork. To share your images of Natural Creation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, please use the hashtag #lowforceart.