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Monday, 8 April 2013

Giant ten foot map of the South Pennines, with Hebden Bridge at its centre

Internationally-acclaimed artist Angela Smyth has created a spectacular new artwork to encourage visitors to seek out the hidden treasures of the South Pennines.

The giant ten foot map, painted in the Halifax-born artist’s trademark quirky and humorous style, captures the character and charm of the South Pennines – an area of rich and rugged moorland, spectacular hills and colourful towns, straddling the West Yorkshire/Lancashire border.

The highly detailed work was commissioned by the Local Distinctiveness project managed by regeneration company Pennine Prospects, and took six months to complete in the artist’s Sowerby Bridge-based studio. Local people were invited to suggest features they wanted to see represented on the final piece.

South Pennines map

Artist Angela Smyth

The original artwork is being made into a series of prints and foldable A1 maps for use in visitor centres around the region. It has also been reproduced in ceramic tiles, which will adorn the exterior of Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre.

Simon Armitage, the Marsden-born poet, playwright and novelist, has contributed lines of poetry to the map from his Stanza Stones project – a set of poems inspired by the region’s language and landscape.

Angela, whose work is exhibited internationally and has become highly collectible said: “This project was a joy to work on. I was given complete creative freedom, which is extremely rare, and a real show of faith from Pennine Prospects.

“The result is certainly not a map in the traditional sense, and it wouldn’t pass muster with Ordnance Survey. It’s my own interpretation of this fabulous area, a reflection of the things I find inspiring.

“It was an organic process. The map took on a life of its own and eventually ended up filling six very large canvasses. Nobody, not even me, knew that the we would end up with a 10ft map, but there was so much to put on, and it is such a wonderful area, that I felt I had to do it justice. I’m sure that there is still a huge amount that isn’t on there – but I still see it as a work in progress and I sneak little things on even now!

“I discovered lots of new things about the South Pennines during my research for the project. My favourite place turned out to be Slaithwaite in the Colne Valley. I fell a little in love with it when I was doing the research. But all the places on the map have so much to offer. They are little micro-worlds which can look after themselves, and have their own unique identity.”

Pennine Prospects commissioned the work as part of its ‘local distinctiveness’ project which aims  to raise awareness of the unique characteristics of the South Pennines’ landscape, people and places, in order to encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more.

South Pennines map

Angela Smyth with Rebecca Yorke

Rebecca Yorke, Pennine Prospects’ local distinctiveness co-ordinator said: “The South Pennines is a wild and wonderful landscape nestling between the Yorkshire Dales to the North and the Peak District to the south. It contains some of the most individual, artistic and quirky places you’re likely to find anywhere in the UK – from Hebden Bridge and Holmfirth to Haworth, Todmorden and Saddleworth.

“It’s been fantastic working on this part of the project with Angela and she has done an amazing job of capturing the spirit of the area and portraying many of its lesser-known traditions, landmarks and heritage. Every time you look at the piece you notice something new – much like the area itself.

“We’re looking forward to rolling the map out across the region’s visitor and information centres, so that thousands of visitors can draw inspiration from it, and seek out some of the area’s rich treasures.”

Katie Kinsella, Principle Tourism Officer for Calderdale MBC said: “I think Angela’s map is absolutely beautiful, and a wonderful reflection of the variety of the area. There’s so much on there - from the beauty and tranquillity of Heptonstall Moor to the ruggedness of the ROKT climbing wall, which is the biggest in the UK.

“The emphasis on the quirky and the little-known is especially refreshing, giving visitors and local residents an opportunity to seek out new things.”