Take up the pen, paint and pixels ‘Northquest Challenge’
Let your family take up the ‘Northquest Challenge’ this year, by visiting a new exhibition at Dove Cottage, in Grasmere, the Lake District, which is striving to enliven the experience of kids visiting its Museum and Gallery, while encouraging families to visit its own special part of ‘Northquest England’.
Its ‘Pen, Paint and Pixels, Touring the English Lakes Across 250 Years’, exhibition is one that can be enjoyed both indoors and out and is a godsend for parents who are looking for new ways of entertaining and inspiring their children in the great outdoors.
Based on three artistic freeze frames in time, stretching from 1769 to just a few years ago, the first part of the fun begins indoors at the Wordsworth Gallery at Dove Cottage. Here, families can view literary descriptions, watercolours, sketches, engravings and digital photography depicting the same Lake District scenes, over the course of more than 200 years, as captured by three different people.
This is the time for ‘spotting’ activities, noting down the differences between the different representations of the same scene, assessing what is missing, what is added, what probably never existed and how nature has changed the locations. All were visited by writer, Thomas Gray (1769), artist Joseph Farington RA (a few years later) and John R Murray, who has taken 21st century digital photos of the same views.
Murray’s book ‘A Tour of the English Lakes’ is the key which unlocks the door of the Northquest Challenge’, in which the prize is knowledge, coupled with the satisfaction of getting a truer representation of the scene than he himself managed. Armed with Ordnance Survey map co-ordinates available from Dove Cottage and the notes in the book, which explain where Murray thinks the view is, or why it cannot exactly be replicated, families can head outdoors and find the locations on a sort of artistic treasure trail. This might involve climbing hillocks, shuffling along bridges and scrambling beside streams, in the quest for a better shot than the creator of this exhibition, but is sure to culminate in a sense of achievement.
This process teaches kids about art, landscape, geography, map reading, the need for fitness, the joy of the outdoors and even the names of topographical features such as crags and summits! The exhibition brings the landscape alive for even the most static of couch potatoes and unenthusiastic walker, injecting enthusiasm into al fresco adventures and offering up all sorts of other activities, such as sketching, playing at the different sites and even stone skimming!
This is the dream exhibition for any parent who loves walking in the countryside, but who struggles to inject their children with the same enthusiasm. With fun children’s activities laid on at Dove Cottage during school holiday times as well, there’s every reason to take up the Northquest Challenge this year and with a Smartphone App due to launch in early summer, there will even be some virtual entertainment to enrich the experience.
Entrance to Pen, Paint and Pixels, which runs to January 6, 2013, can be bought as part of a visit to Dove Cottage which includes a tour of Wordsworth’s former home and the Wordsworth Museum. This costs £7.50 for an adult, £4.50 for a child (under 6s free) and £17.20 for a family ticket. The price of John Murray’s book, complete with the map co-ordinates, is £25 for the hardback and £14.99 for the softback. Dove Cottage is open seven days a week, from 9.30am to 5.30pm (last admission 5pm). Visit wordsworth.org.uk for more information.