Jane Travis reveals how visitors this spring can embark on their own 21st century cultural tour in our region

Great British Life: Make Believe, Shane Waltener, 2013, Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery, installation photograph by John HartleyMake Believe, Shane Waltener, 2013, Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery, installation photograph by John Hartley (Image: as caption)

Derbyshire and the Peak District with its spas at Buxton and Matlock, and natural wonders at sites such as Dovedale and Castleton, have been enjoyed by ‘touring’ visitors since as early as the 17th century. The county’s many great estates also welcomed visitors to view their collections centuries before coach tours and commercial explorations were established. A ‘Grand Tour’ of this region emerged from the early 18th century as a popular option for visitors who were seeking culture, travel and improved wellbeing, but who perhaps didn’t have the desire or means to embark on a Grand Tour of Europe. Our county was less of a leap into the unknown – and often a far more comfortable option – than trips to Italy, France or Spain. So it’s fitting that a modern day Grand Tour – taking in the cultural richness of Derbyshire and our neighbouring county, Nottinghamshire – returns to the region for a third season.

Running across key arts institutions and cultural sites throughout the two counties over the next few months, this third instalment of The Grand Tour promises to offer another exceptional programme of exhibitions, installations, tours, lectures and workshops in a busy line-up of events at a dozen sites.

Headlining the Grand Tour at Chatsworth – and in conjunction with programme partner Nottingham Contemporary – is the influential British artist and musician Linder Sterling, who is known for her photomontages and performances. This marks an exciting stage in Chatsworth’s journey as it becomes ever-more recognised for its patronage of contemporary arts: as Linder becomes the first-ever resident artist at Chatsworth. During her residency at the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Linder will use her surroundings to generate images for future works.

Linder’s residency will be presented at Chatsworth throughout its open season, with the work interlinking with a major new exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, titled ‘The House of Fame’. The largest retrospective of Linder’s work in the country to date, it features her photomontages and performances from the last 40 years, displayed alongside a collection of her artistic influences that ranges from drawings, photographs and sculpture to tapestries and jewellery.

Great British Life: A grand culinary tour at the School of Artisan Food, WelbeckA grand culinary tour at the School of Artisan Food, Welbeck (Image: as caption)

Nottingham Contemporary describes the exhibition as ‘circumnavigating ideas of fashion, music, performance, gender, low art, transcendental beliefs and transformations’. It has been curated across four galleries, with separate ‘houses’, where artworks and ideas interact.

This new Grand Tour season presents a rare opportunity to experience a leading artist’s work both very much ‘live’, with Linder in residence at Chatsworth, as well as in reflection of her incredible collection – and its influencers – at Nottingham Contemporary. It’s hoped that Linder’s work – and The Grand Tour as a whole – will inspire new audiences for contemporary art across the country.

Staying with Nottinghamshire, in the north of the region on the historic Welbeck Estate, The Harley Gallery hosts the British artist Clare Twomey, whose new exhibition titled ‘Half in Shadow: Half in Light’ explores life on the estate through a series of lithophanes; delicate structures which reveal their images when exposed to light. This art form, usually created from porcelain, became popular in the 1800s just as the Grand Tour was in full swing. Twomey has reinvented the traditional technique of the lithophane through a series of portraits of the people who live and work on the Welbeck Estate, allowing new stories to be told.

Returning to Derbyshire, the fourth major partner of the Grand Tour is Derby Museum and Art Gallery, where a new exhibition looks back at the region’s industrial history through both art and artefacts.

Great British Life: Foundry Scene, 1930-1940, unknown artist -® Derby MuseumsFoundry Scene, 1930-1940, unknown artist -® Derby Museums (Image: derby museums)

‘The Art of Industry: From Joseph Wright to the 21st century’ (24th March to 17th June) shows the relationship artists have had with our region’s industrial heritage in three sections: ‘Workshop’, a display of historic artefacts from the county’s rich industrial past; ‘Industrial Landscapes’, showcasing the changing portrayal of the working landscape from the Romantic era to late Victorian times; and ‘People at Work’. Wonderfully, a painting by the county’s most famous artist, Joseph Wright, returns to Derby for the first time since the 18th century. An Iron Forge, painted in 1772 and in the collection of the Tate, will be displayed alongside works by Ford Madox Brown, LS Lowry, Graham Sutherland and Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

In an exciting addition to the exhibition, award-winning Derby photographer Simon Mackney has worked with some of the county’s business leaders to reinterpret Wright’s portrait of Sir Richard Arkwright. A salute to our prodigious engineering and manufacturing heritage which is still strong today, over 300 years later.

Great British Life: Linder Untitled, 2018 Courtesy the artist and Stuart Shave_Modern Art. Devonshire Collection, ChatsworthLinder Untitled, 2018 Courtesy the artist and Stuart Shave_Modern Art. Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth (Image: artist as caption)

On the fringe

To complement the four partners’ exhibitions, various fringe venues are presenting a variety of exhibitions and events that explore the main themes of the Grand Tour returns – the impact of industrial creation and the artistic process:

Backlit Gallery, Nottingham: ‘Mirrors for Princes’, 26th May–9th July. Contemporary artists blur the lines across West and East. Series of screen-printing and textiles workshops

Derby Cathedral: ‘Developing and Redeveloping’, 6th April–25th May. Traces the Cathedral’s history through the archive of Derby photographers WW Winter Ltd

Djanogy Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts: ‘Scaling the Sublime: Art at the Limits of Landscape’, 23rd March–17th June. Explores the continuing fascination of the landscape ‘Sublime’ for contemporary artists – with events programme

Renishaw Hall and Gardens: ‘Brothers in Arts – The Sitwell Passion and Patronage’, tours run from April to end July. Exploring the Hall and estate through the collection of the influential Sitwell brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell.

School of Artisan Food, Welbeck: Join The School of Artisan Food for a series of culinary workshops that recall the sugar sculptures of the Renaissance etc. Introduction to Renaissance Sugar Craft session on 5th May.

Syson Gallery, Nottingham: The Penny Gallery Petitions. 22nd March–31st May. A programme of talk events inspired by the exchange of ideas in 17th and 18th century coffee houses.

University of Nottingham, Manuscripts & Special Collections: ‘Hosiery and Lace: Exploring the Archives’, 16th May, 2-4pm. Explore the rich collection of hosiery, lace and textile records.

For more details of how to enjoy these intriguing exhibitions this spring and early summer visit www.thegrandtour.uk.com