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Sandstone Ridge Cheshire
Story telling
27 land paint
Sandstone Ridge Cheshire West
May 2009 107

The panoramic views from the Sandstone Ridge, abundant wildlife and rich heritage have captured people's imaginations for centuries, and continue to be a great source of inspiration for artists, photographers, poets and performers. The great English artist JMW Turner, for example, sketched and painted the dramatic ruins of Beeston Castle in the early 19th century. A century later, the Bickerton Hills were being visited by a young Wilfred Owen on family holidays and first inspired his love of poetry.

Today a number of high quality artists and craftspeople live and work along the Ridge, or exhibit at exhibitions in venues like Castle Park Art Centre in Frodsham.

The southern part of the Ridge played host to a brand new Sandstone Ridge Festival in 2017. An exciting programme of concerts, exhibitions, talks and guided walks took place in Malpas, Tattenhall, Bunbury and Burwardsley between 18 and 21 May.

The Heritage Lottery funded Habitat and Hillforts Project (2008-12) included a number of performing and public arts projects to support the interpretation of the Sandstone Ridge, including:

  • Courses linking the arts and the environment, drawing on the expertise of local artists and run by the Harthill Creative Centre (read Fertile Ground for a beautiful record of their achievements)
  • Story telling by the "Journey Man" — Johnny Gillett, who in July 2009 walked the length of the Sandstone Ridge over 4 days, stopping each evening at one of the hillforts to tell local stories he has unearthed linked to the Sandstone Ridge
  • A local history project about the living history of the Sandstone Ridge, compiled by Barbara Foxwell and David Joyce, which captured local people's memories about this fascinating landscape, and published in "Captured Memories"
  • A digital artist in residence (Patricia MacKinnon Day). The output from her residency was her exhibition "Private views made Public", a set of six time lapse films of sites across the Ridge, through night and day and over the seasons.
  • A new production commissioned Jointly with the Arts Council ("Forgotten Fortress") by the Chester based "Theatre in the Quarter". The play was written (and new music composed) in the light of research amongst the Sandstone Ridge community, and performed 20 times in venues up and down the Ridge.
  • A captivating digital fly-through of what the Sandstone Ridge may have looked like in the Iron Age.

The wildlife artist Kim Atkinson painted a series of beautiful watercolours for a range of interpretative material which responded to and celebrated the sense of place of the Ridge and its many and varied special qualities. These paintings can be viewed in our Gallery.

The spirit of the Ridge was eloquently captured by the 2004 Cheshire Poet Laureate John Lindley in his poem "Stone by Stepping Stone".