From the 8th to 17th September, residents and visitors to the Ironbridge Gorge will be able to uncover some of this World Heritage site’s less well-known attractions by following an art trail designed to showcase the work of many of the talented artists and crafts people who live and work there.
Making the most of the dramatic surroundings, the Secret Severn Art Trail will guide visitors along the gorge, stopping at a series of venues where the work of over 30 artists including painters, sculptors, printers, textile workers, glass and jewellery makers, illustrators, photographers, furniture designers and printers will be on display.
Art lovers will be able to go behind the scenes and see the artists at work in open studios, take part in interactive art installations, or learn new skills in drop-in sessions and creative workshops. The work on display will be available to buy direct from the makers, so visitors can take home a piece of work by a newly discovered favourite or add to an existing collection.
The trail will begin at the Green Wood centre in Coalbrookdale, then head down through the village to Ironbridge Fine Art & Framing in Merrythought Village, before continuing along the river Severn to The Footprint Gallery at Fusion in the Tile Museum and The Maws craft centre in Jackfield. Refreshment stops will be available along the route at any of the numerous cafes, restaurants and pubs to be found throughout the gorge, many of whom will be supporting the Art Trail by displaying mini exhibitions or events of their own.
Hazel McNab, illustrator and one of the founders of Secret Severn, the voluntary art group organising the trail said “The first ever Secret Severn Art Trail was held over one weekend in September 2016 and was a great success as it raised awareness of the wealth of creative talent available locally. The Ironbridge Gorge is known Worldwide as the birthplace of industry, so it was great to be able to show another side to this amazing location. This year, we have increased the number of artists and designer-makers taking part and are offering an extensive programme of workshops, open studio and drop-in sessions where adults and children alike can learn new skills or watch the artists at work.”
She added that “By extending the trail over the course of a week, people who were unable to visit last year have more chances to do so or can take part in a number of different activities.”
A highlight of the event will be a series of art installations created by each of the artists from pieces of encaustic and clay tiles discovered near the old Maw & Co tile factory. The site is now the home of The Maws craft centre which will display these works in an open exhibition in the courtyard during the second weekend of the trail. Jenny Newall, glass artist and organiser of the ‘Secret Severn Tile Challenge’ said, “We are challenging each of the artists involved in the event to use a bag of broken tile pieces from Maws to create a unique piece of artwork which we hope will form the basis of a permanent Secret Severn exhibition. This will be added to each year to create a unique collection of works depicting the Ironbridge Gorge’s heritage in a completely new way.”
The Secret Severn Art Trail will begin on Friday 8th September with a pop-up weekend at the Green Wood Centre and end with a Tapas & Tango celebration at The Maws on Sunday 17th September. Details of the artists, venues and how to book a workshop space can be found online at www.secretsevern.co.uk or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org