A PaperBridge made in the English Lake District captures the world’s imagination

Spring 2015 saw Lakes Culture, launch a brand new cultural events programme called ‘Lakes Ignite’ to showcase the Lakes District, Cumbria, as the UK’s must visit rural cultural destination.
As part of that event four innovative artistic works were commissioned based around the theme of imaginary journeys, designed to encourage people to explore the area’s cultural offer between April and May.

One of the pieces commissioned was a unique large-scale temporary installation, a bridge made entirely of bright red paper, supplied by Cumbrian papermaker James Cropper Plc, called PaperBridge, traversing a flowing river in the Grisedale Valley, Patterdale in the heart of the Lake District landscape.

PaperBridge was the culmination of three years’ work – the dream of Teesdale based artist Steve Messam, an artist with an international reputation for undertaking ambitious temporary installations in rural landscapes.

The 4.2 tonnes of bright red paper in Paperbridge certainly captured people’s imaginations, as over 8,500 people visited the piece during the ten days it was on display in the Lakes. Images and film footage of the bridge taken by the public and press featured in a huge variety of media and on an array of social platforms around the globe. See the construction of the original PaperBridge on YouTube: https://youtu.be/dKto0hsaMRs

This coverage also caught the attention of international vehicle manufacturer Land Rover as well. As a result they approached Messam and the world’s leading papermaker James Cropper Plc with a proposal to create a new paper bridge to help them celebrate a significant milestone – the 45th anniversary Range Rover and 45 years of engineering innovation with the launch of their latest SUV, in the build up to the Guangzhou Auto Show, China (20 – 22 November).

Messam and Cropper’s agreed to help out and began the task of planning a modified version of the earlier Lake District PaperBridge – one capable of bearing the gross weight of the very latest Range Rover at 3 tonnes.

This new bridge utilised the same ancient building method used in the original created by Messam, making use of a wooden former, to enable the construction of a 2050mm wide roadway, created from 53,000 sheets of 330gsm Natural Crystal white paper produced by Cropper’s.

Steve Messam and members of the team involved in creating the Lake District’s PaperBridge travelled to China set about building the bridge over a four day period in Suzhou, China. The city also known as the ‘Venice of the East’, was chosen because of its many associations with the invention of paper and host of beautiful arched bridges. See the crossing on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KksImg6rCtk

As the artist Steve Messam said: ‘’PaperBridge created for Lakes Culture’s ‘Lakes Ignite’ programme was a temporary artwork made for and about the landscape of the Lake District, based on local stone bridge construction dating back to Roman times. By contrast the paper bridge created for Land Rover was designed to celebrate 45 years of Ranger Rover and to demonstrate British innovation both in terms of manufacturing a simple material such as paper and in terms of complex engineering solutions found the latest Range Rover SUVs.’’
Chris Brown, Commercial Director at James Cropper, added: “It’s an honour to collaborate with fellow British manufacturers and designers to be a part of this world-first, which puts our paper’s durability to the ultimate test. The combined expertise of Land Rover, Steve Messam and James Cropper represents the highest standard of British engineering, manufacturing and design.

Usha Mistry, Lakes Culture’s Project Manager, said: “The original PaperBridge put the Lake District’s inspirational landscape under the world’s gaze. It juxtaposed cutting-edge contemporary art against our historic landscape. The second reincarnation of PaperBridge highlights modern technology using what is essentially a natural product. Like our Lakes Ignite event, art has been used to make us see things differently.

To find out more about art and culture in the Lake District, Cumbria or about ‘Lakes Ignite’ please visit www.lakesculture.co.uk


About Lakes Culture:

• Lakes Culture aims to bring together the area’s tourism and cultural sectors to better promote the wealth of cultural activities on offer reaffirming the area as the UK’s leading rural cultural destination.
• The Lake District is one of only ten locations in the country to benefit from Cultural Destinations initiative a focused programme set up by Arts Council England and VisitEngland. The aim of Cultural destinations is to enable arts and culture organisations working in partnership with destination organisations to increase their reach, engagement and resilience through working with the tourism sector. Closer working between the two sectors will contribute to the economic growth of the cultural and tourism visitor economies.
• Organisations involved in the project include Kendal Brewery Arts Centre (Lead Organisation), Lakeland Arts, Kendal Arts International, Wordsworth Trust, Theatre by the Lake, The Forestry Commission – Grizedale, Cumbria Tourism, The National Trust, Lake District National Park and South Lakeland District Council.
• The Lakes Culture project will also form a supporting strand of the World Heritage Status bid to be submitted by the Lake District National Park and partners.

For more information contact Greg Stephenson – gstephenson@cumbriatourism.org / 01539 825060 or visit www.lakesculture.co.uk

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