Kiah Simpson in Film & TV

02/05/2017

Creative England partnership with Sky Arts on Tate Britain's Great British Walks

We are proud to partner with Sky arts and 7 Wonder for Tate Britain’s Great British Walks!

Creative England has co-funded and executive produced Tate Britain’s Great British Walks as part of our on-going commitment to investing in content from independent producers in regional England outside of Greater London.

We have previously partnered with Sky Arts & The National Youth Theatre on a short film initiative known as shortFLIX and on the original comedy series Urban Myths.

This new Sky Arts series, in partnership with Tate Britain, presents an epic travel travelogue through British art in the company of Danny Baker, Simon Callow, Richard E Grant, Cerys Matthews, Miriam Margolyes and Michael Sheen, as they each journey to discover the landscapes that inspired their favourite paintings, chosen from Tate’s national collection. 

Art historian Gus Casely-Hayford accompanies the guests as they not only discover the stories behind their chosen paintings, but also the local characters and contemporary artists that still reflect the scenes caught on canvas decades, if not hundreds of years, ago. 

Gus Casely-Hayford says: ‘I thought I knew Britain, but seeing it through an artist’s eyes was like seeing it for the very first time. Stepping into worlds created by some of our greatest landscape painters and walking the very paths that they once trod has changed the way that I feel about our country.’

The line-up includes actor Richard E Grant, who selects John Constable’s Flatford Mill (1816-17). Richard is undecided on whether Constable’s work is the ultimate celebration of rural England or is just a little bit chocolate box for his liking. 

As a boy Danny Baker discovered a love and fascination of painter William Hogarth and delighted in the bawdiness and squalor of his etchings, in particular Gin Lane (1751). Comedy writer, journalist and radio DJ Danny embarks on a lively journey with Gus through London, where he revels in the theatre of the street that captivated Hogarth. 

Actor, writer and musician Simon Callow chooses painter William Powell Frith’s Derby Day (1856-58) in Epsom Downs, near Surrey. Gus and Simon are propelled back into the entertaining world of this Victorian society painter, infamous for his crowd scenes packed with social stereotypes. If Charles Dickens was capturing the highs and lows of life at the time in literature, it was his great friend Powell Frith who was doing it in paint. 

Award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes has long adored the work of Alfred Wallis, a love that began in her young adulthood. While a student at Cambridge, she rented a Wallis painting and had it hung on the wall of her student digs. Gus and Miriam head to the coastal art jewel of the British Isles St Ives, which is also the name of her chosen painting. While charging through the cobbled lanes of this quaint fishing village, Miriam discovers Wallis was nothing like her preconceptions and that his work is far more surprising and subtle than she had ever imagined.

Welsh acting royalty Michael Sheen leaves Hollywood and returns to South Wales, where he explores the mining communities indelibly captured by the Polish painter and Jewish emigre Josef Herman, in his chosen painting Three Miners (1953). Michael is astonished at Herman’s brilliance in capturing the lives of local miners from 50 years ago with just a few charcoal lines, as well as his uncanny ability to paint the autumnal haze that fills these stunning and rugged landscapes.

We all think we know Turner as the wild and brilliant master of British art, for his iconic violent seascapes and scenes of Victorian life, but Cerys Matthews, singer, songwriter and broadcaster, loves him for his gentle and still works. In this walk, we see Cerys head to the Scottish Borders to discover the majestic Norham Castle, painted by Turner in 1798. The Northumberland landscape inspired Turner throughout his life and is one that Cerys feels is full of Celtic poetry and magic.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director, Sky Arts, says: ‘Tate Britain’s Great British Walks is a unique new landmark series commissioned in partnership with Tate Britain. In each film, we are art detectives in the magnificent company of well-loved British figures, undertaking epic journeys across the nation to discover paintings that hold a personal resonance for them. The guests have been remarkably open and passionate, not just about art, but about their lives, Britain and the timeless spirit of its landscape and peoples.’

Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain, comments: ‘Tate Britain is the home of British art, and the works in our national collection are as powerful and beautiful today as they were when they were first painted. Tate Britain’s Great British Walks will map the connections between people and places in six of the paintings on display here, revealing the artists’ relationship with the landscape and locality. After watching the programme, I hope viewers will come to Tate Britain to see the works alongside other great paintings by the artists, starting their very own journey of discovery.’

Solomon Nwabueze, Director of Content, Creative England, adds: ‘We’re delighted to have supported this entertaining and engaging art show which truly showcases England's beautiful scenery, and how the people and places in the English regions inspired the some of the Tate’s impressive collection of land and cityscapes; all through the eyes of some of our most high profile creative talents. This is the first step in building an on-going programming relationship between Creative England and Sky, championing television production from the English regions’.

Michelle Crowther, Series Producer, 7 Wonder says: ‘This series was an absolute treat to put together. Not only has partnering with Tate Britain given us unique access to a fountain of knowledge, but re-discovering the landscapes has been incredibly exciting. With Gus as a guide, these journeys have provided a backdrop to some highly illuminating and intimate conversations between him and our talent, and we hope that viewers will enjoy re-discovering these artists’ landscapes with a 21st century twist’.

Tate Britain’s Great British Walks starts Tuesday at 9PM on Sky Arts

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