An artist’s eyes

Casely-Hayford for Tate Britain Great British Walks

Casely-Hayford for Tate Britain’s Great British Walks

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.

Flatford Mill by John Constable

Flatford Mill by John Constable

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.

Norham Castle by JMW Turner, chosen by Cerys Matthews

Norham Castle by JMW Turner, chosen by Cerys Matthews

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.”

The Derby Day by William Powell Frith

The Derby Day by William Powell Frith

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.

What is art, anyway?

Kurt Schwitters, En Morn 1947 © Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris / DACS 2012

Kurt Schwitters, En Morn 1947 © Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris / DACS 2012

Seeking inspiration? Why not head over to Tate Modern to see Schwitters In Britain exhibition, a showcase of the later work by artist and poet Kurt Schwitters>

Schwitter was forced to flee Germany to escape persecution after his work was deemed ‘degenerate’ by Germany’s Nazi government in 1940. In fact he was busing inventing a new artform (no small accomplishment!) – Merz: ‘the combination, for artistic purposes, of all conceivable materials.’

He believed that all materials have equal artistic value, from paint and paper to found objects such as pieces of wire and pram wheels – just as in poetry a fragment of conversation overheard on a bus can have as much value as any other string of words.

The exhibition includes more than 150 collages and sculptures.  It’s on until 12 May 2013, so if you can’t make it this weekend, you have plenty of time. Entry costs £10.