I’m a fan of telly channel Sky Arts, and the wonderfully engaging ways they come up with to excite audiences with a love of fine art.
Their latest offering, Tate Britain’s Great British Walks, invites half a dozen celebrities to discover the landscapes that inspired their favourite paintings, chosen from Tate’s national collection.
Taking part are Richard E Grant, Michael Sheen, Cerys Matthews, Miriam Margolyes, Danny Baker and Simon Callow, with artwork by John Constable, JMW Turner, William Hogarth, Alfred Wallis, William Powell Frith and Josef Herman revealing some of the UK’s most impressive scenery, from the bucolic to the squalid to the enchanting.
Singer, songwriter and broadcaster Cerys Matthews shares her love of Turner’s more tranquil works, as she heads to the Scottish Borders to discover the majestic Norham Castle, painted by Turner in 1798.
Along the way, art historian Gus Casely-Hayford joins the guests to reveal the stories behind and around their chosen paintings.
“I thought I knew Britain, but seeing it through an artist’s eyes was like seeing it for the very first time,” says Gus. “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.”
I love the idea of rediscovering familiar paintings and scenery in this visceral way beyond the art gallery’s walls, and of glimpsing insights into the actors and broadcasters who have selected them.
Tate Britain’s Great British Walks will screen in six one-hour episodes from 2nd May 2017 at 9pm on Sky Arts.