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LOUTH ART TRAIL TAKES ON NEW LEASE OF LIFE

A newly launched Louth Art Trail Action Group is challenging you to hit the trail and seek out the sculptures, get inspired and draw, paint or photograph the artworks and their locations.  

All entries will be shared on Facebook and the winning entries will be framed and displayed in a local gallery. The winners will receive prizes including art materials, a sculpture session and a food and drink gift hamper made possible by kind donations from Beaumonts Delicatessen, Crackpot, For Your Walls, John Taylors and Mckinnells Photography. There are three categories: two children’s painting, drawing or photography competitions, under 11s and 11 – 16 years; and a 17 plus photography competition. Entries are required by Monday 20th September and the winners will be announced on Friday 1st October. Full details are available on the @loutharttrailactiongroup Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/loutharttrailactiongroup

The Louth Art Trail Action group is an open community group made up of representatives from local organisations and individuals working together to encourage engagement with the works on the Louth Art Trail works and art in Louth more generally. Participating organisations include Zero Degrees Festival, Louth Museum and Louth Civic Trust along with town and district councillors and interested residents. The group has also sought advice from the Louth Art Trail’s original commissioning agencies. 

The Louth Art Trail was officially launched on 5th July 2002. It was a £200,000 project funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England and European Regional Development Fund with support from the town, district and county councils.  The Commissioning of the works was undertaken by a Project Management Team that combined local knowledge with a wealth of expertise in public art commissioning. The works were inspired by the historical and cultural significance of the town with the aim of encouraging the discovery and understanding of their different locations and attract visitors to the town.  

The trail includes the stainless steel Wave and Wind Indicator works by artist Simon Percival celebrating the River Lud and Louth Canal; the Meridian bronze sculptures and text which were the result of a collaboration between sculptor Laurence Edwards and book artist Les Bicknell; and the four leaf sculptures in Westgate fields by sculptor Howard Bowcott.

David Wright, then Director of Commissions East (now Commission Projects), the region’s arts commissioning agency, explains the significance of the works: 

“The Louth Art Trail was ahead of its time with specially commissioned works by a group of artists that celebrate Louth – in particular, the passage of the Greenwich Meridian line, and Louth Navigation through the town centre and the impressive landscape of Hubbard’s Hills leading down to the town.

It is a tribute to Louth residents that the works have now become a valued part of the town’s history.”

Over the last 20 years, the works have become part of the cultural landscape, loved by residents and visitors alike. But not all public art is designed to last a lifetime, the leaves commissioned from Howard Bowcott had an expected life of between 10-15 years and after an impressive 19 years, three of the works are now at the stage of requiring decommissioning. It was the prospect of the removal of these works that inspired the creation of the Louth Art Trail Action Group. 

The group has set itself up with the same ethos as the original management team. The Louth Art Trail set a model of best practice for rural towns that included consultation with local residents, users and “keepers” of the spaces along with a programme of events that included school workshops, public lectures, creative workshops and exhibitions. It is the community involvement that the Louth Art Trail Action Group aims to emulate.  

Councillor Eileen Ballard chaired the Louth Art Trail Management Team and is now part of the Action Group and said:

“It may have been the sad news about the leaves in Westgate fields that has brought this group together, but the prospect of renewing our appreciation and engagement with the Art Trail, of shining a light on the town’s artistic heritage as a whole and potentially inspiring an appetite for the commissioning of new works, has brought back that feeling of excitement about what we can achieve as a community here in Louth”.

The summer art and photography competitions are the first in a series of community initiatives planned by the group to encourage people to discover art through Louth. 

For more information on the competitions, the sculptures and the work and membership of the group, visit their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/loutharttrailactiongroup

The group can also be contacted by email on LATactiongroup@gmail.com

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