In August 2021 North Lincolnshire presented artist Luke Jerram’s ‘Of Earth and Sky,’ a large-scale visual art trail constructed from poetry written by residents. The project was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was 20-21 Visual Arts Centre‘s (20-21) first public-realm exhibition that brought together a range of partners from across the region, as part of the celebration of 20-21’s 20th anniversary.
Of Earth & Sky is one of three winners of Best Arts Project in the 2022 Hearts for the Arts Awards. In the words of our judges, here’s why:
Of Earth & Sky demonstrates a real connection with the community. Using trackable QR codes, created for the art trail linking back to the webpage was an excellent idea. Andy Dawson: Inspire Youth Arts, winner of the 2021 HFTA award for Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker
I like the emphasis on taking art (poetry) physically to areas of low arts engagement, not relying exclusively on consumers coming to the art. Workshops and poetry submissions make up the public engagement part of the art. Making it outdoors with geographical spread increased connections between gallery and the town. Outdoor presentations and online engagement reached audiences in new ways. I liked the determination to combat isolation and the different groups by targeting issues of health, well-being, children, literacy, poverty, older audiences and outdoor life. A moving project. Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason: author, speaker and supporter of music education
I absolutely loved the commitment in this project to reach people who often feel excluded or apathetic when it comes to the arts. Drawing self-expression through poetry during a time when so many felt the most isolated and vulnerable was a vital effort. Shaparak Khorsandi: stand-up comedian, writer, all round delight
It’s great to see Of Earth and Sky considering how art and poetry can be used to encourage people to get out and about. I’m sure we all became a little fatigued with our daily walking routes over lockdown, so finding a way to revitalise these familiar paths seems to be an excellent concept. I love the fact that the short phrases chosen draw you in and make you want to hear more, again, allowing art to be something that can be encountered accidentally instead of having to be actively sought out. It’s wonderful to see this project fusing modern technology with real, physical components. Anna Lapwood: organist, conductor and broadcaster
“This project really embraced the challenge and will have brought people previously not interested in poetry, or even the arts, together as a community. It is very telling that the footfall into the Gallery was higher in September than pre-pandemic – that shows real long-term reach into people’s lives.” Deborah Meaden: businesswoman and TV Dragon
I love the idea of making the land a poem. In Luton, we had bells in the pavement, and I really remember seeing teenagers jumping up and down on them and laughing. I think this sounds like it’s done similar things – a really special idea, given flight. Jack Thorne: screenwriter and playwright
Poetry is an art form many people turn to in crisis, but can feel exclusive to those who think they’re “outside” it. Of Earth and Sky celebrates a big birthday by involving local people creatively, making art with them, not just for them. And it does it with words writ large, curated by an important artist, in a way that’s easy to see, enjoy and reflect upon. A beautiful idea, beautifully done. Samuel West: actor, director, trustee of the National Campaign for the Arts
Read more about Of Earth & Sky’s nomination here
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