God's Bridge: Art inspired by 'unique geological feature'

God's Bridge The natural structure was formed by a process of cave development in the limestone beneath the river bed

Making their way along an old drovers' route, a group of artists have embarked on a journey inspired by a natural bridge high in the Teesdale landscape.

"God's Bridge is a landscape of absence, the River Greta's slow erosion of the limestone over centuries, making you reflect on what has been taken away from the place dispersed into the flow of water and time passing..." said artist Tania Kovats.

Situated just 1.8 mile (3km) upstream from the village of Bowes, God's Bridge sits on Pennine Way over the River Greta.

The natural limestone structure, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, was formed by a process of cave development in the limestone beneath the river bed.

According to Natural England, it is the "best example" in Britain of a natural bridge formed in this way.

Now a group of 10 artists are displaying their response to the "unique geological feature" in an exhibition at the Bowes Museum.

Hannah Leighton-Boyce An optical horizon enclosed within a glass sphere filled halfway with water forms one of the pieces

The project, which was developed by charity ARTworks in Teesdale, aims to explore how landscape can inspire art, as well as broadening awareness of Teesdale's remote surroundings.

Judy Caplin, director of ARTworks in Teesdale, said: "Using the local landscape was essential - it's integral to the project and the heart of Teesdale.

"The idea was to bring people into this landscape from inside and outside the area to enhance their knowledge of the area.

"The unusual responses to it through the art might even change their perspectives and ideas about this setting."

Jill Cole Some of the artists ventured into the cold water under God's Bridge. The shoes were left waiting

Mrs Caplin said the idea of walking through a rural, "almost bleak" landscape, was to take the artists out of their comfort zone.

The artists sourced objects and fabrics from the surrounding area, including the sedimentary rock that forms God's Bridge.

The response has been a collection of art ranging from a giant stone sculpture to a digital projection on a tiny glass sphere.

The project was funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mrs Caplin said the contemporary landscape pieces will be displayed throughout the Bowes Museum's permanent collections to encourage visitors to search for the artworks, very much as the artists had to seek out God's Bridge.

The godsbridgeX exhibition will be at the Bowes Museum from 5 April - 6 July.

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