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May 8, 2019

Students who designed and constructed a brand-new piece of public architecture in Northumberland have been joined by community representatives and partners at its unveiling.

As the most recent addition to Kielder Water & Forest Park’s Art & Architecture Programme, The Nick is the latest in the series of creative projects that have been developed through the partnership between the Park’s Development Trust and Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

(left to right) – Newcastle University students (Outside) Harry Thompson, (inside) Lewis Lovedale, Reshma Upadhyaya, Olivia Ebune, Dominic Davies, and (outside) Joseph English. Photograph by Neil Denham

Situated at the highest point of Forest Drive, The Nick provides varying levels of shelter and seating alternatives from which different aspects of the landscape can be viewed. It was funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership, Forestry England and Newcastle University, with support from James Christopher Consulting and D.G. Walton and Son.

The piece is oriented along an axis connecting the villages of Byrness and Kielder, reflecting and highlighting the importance of Forest Drive in connecting the Rede and Tyne valleys and communities.

A group of seven students from the University took part in the creation of The Nick, working with members of the Redesdale community throughout 2018, generating ideas and developing the proposal and design. The structure’s design captures different elements of this remote landscape; focusing the eye on the nearby flora that makes up this rare peat upland ecology and framing the distant fells, culminating in a stunning view towards the head of the North Tyne valley.  The students prefabricated much of the artwork in the university workshops before transporting and assembling its individual parts to create the finished piece at Blakehope Nick.

The Nick was commissioned by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust through its Art & Architecture programme, which is supported by Arts Council England, working with the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership, Newcastle University and Forestry England.

Photograph by Neil Denham

Alex MacLennan, Recreation and Public Affairs Manager, North East for Forestry England and one of the members of Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “The Nick is another fantastic example of partnership working to enhance the wonderful surroundings of the Park through art and architecture. It encourages visitors to stop, look around and fully experience the raw wilderness of the area – this ties nicely into our centenary, 100 years of Forestry as you really get to see how the vision back in 1919 has today turned Kielder into such an iconic area in the UK. It’s been great to once again work with the students of Newcastle University to create something truly unique.”

Graham Farmer, Head of Architecture, Newcastle University, said: “The Nick is our seventh permanent Testing Ground project and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with various project partners to deliver it. The Nick presented a really interesting design challenge for our students and they had to develop a sensitive response appropriate to the remote and ecologically sensitive site whilst also celebrating the unique qualities of the location and landscape at Blakehope Nick. Their design approach has resulted in a structure that is both practical and engaging and it is a project we are all very proud of.”

Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership representative, Maria Hardy said, “The Nick is an inspiring place to pause at the top of the watershed between the North Tyne and Rede valleys, to appreciate the landscape of managed forests and wild heather moors viewed through the frame of this unique architecture.  The project has given students an opportunity to learn community consultation skills and is the first step in our aspiration to strengthen artistic connections between Kielder and Redesdale.”

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.  Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

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