The People’s Art Exhibition, funded by the Academy of Marketing, and curated by Dr Fiona Cheetham and Dr Claire McCamley, Senior Lecturers at Huddersfield Business School, took place at Huddersfield’s Piazza, between 10th - 14th of May 2022.
The theme of the exhibition was “Loving Nature in Kirklees”. A collection of over 30 pieces including photographs, paintings, drawings, and collages were submitted by local residents and artists responding to a call to showcase nature in Kirklees. The Exhibition welcomed over 115 visitors during its 5 days and was positively received by visitors, who commented on the beauty of the local area, and who were encouraged to make more efforts to explore and appreciate nature.
Artworks at the exhibition featured local beauty spots including waterways, forests and moors as well as focusing on wildlife. As part of the exhibition, Jo Kennedy, a local sound artist, talked about her recent exhibition entitled 'I am on my way to the sea', a collection of visual and audio pieces inspired by her journey along the River Colne from its source above Marsden, downstream to where it joins the larger River Calder. Through this journey Jo charted the relationship she formed with the river, its essence as a moving, living thing, and how she came to understand our wider relationship with it as a society. EPIKS – Environmental Projects in Kirklees, a local not-for-profit company had a stand at the exhibition and led a guided nature walk as part of the five-day event.
Commenting on the exhibition, Fiona and Claire said, “We believe personal creations can reach out and ‘speak’ to others about nature and the natural world on a more emotional and visceral level than scientific papers and articles in the mainstream media on the environment and climate change. We wanted not just to acknowledge our amazing moorlands, landscapes, parks, and waterways but to share our personal experiences of these spaces and places with other local people.”
The People’s Art Exhibition was intended to be a celebration of the natural features of Kirklees and its surrounding areas. Allied to this, the project aims to acknowledge the importance of caring, preserving and even improving local nature for future generations. It is hoped that by attending the exhibition people have realised a deeper connection with nature and will be inspired to fall in love with nature. Acknowledging the benefits of spending time in nature, encouraging others to create time to discover natural places and spaces in the locality and kindling emotional connections with nature are core themes of the exhibition and the wider project.