Derbyshire to have a Grand Tour

Derby MuseumsThree hundred years ago the gap year of choice for the upper classes was a Grand Tour through France and Italy in search of art and culture.

In these more enlightened times of art for everyone there is to be a modern day reinterpretation of the experience we can all enjoy and it is taking place in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Chatsworth, Derby Museums, The Harley Gallery at Welbeck and Nottingham Contemporary have joined together to create a groundbreaking contemporary Grand Tour with a focus on growing cultural tourism in the counties.

The ambitious project will feature unique artist and architectural riches from the region presented over two seasons July to September next year and March to June in 2016.

Hidden treasures from private collections will be juxtaposed with contemporary art exhibitions across the four venues and will hopefully be seen by a new generation of local, national and international visitors.

It has been funded by Arts Council England and VisitEngland as part of their Cultural Destinations programme and has the backing of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, which is essentially a regional business group.

The Grand Tour launch event at Nottingham Contemporary was told by the Duke of Devonshire that the main justification for the project was extra bed occupancy in the region.

“We all do exhibitions so it is not new for us. What is new is getting people to stay,” he said adding that his own Beyond Limits sculpture exhibition could attract 20,000 visitors over seven weeks many of whom stay the night in the county and nearby.

Alex Farquharson, director of Nottingham Contemporary, said: “The Grand Tour played a major role in shaping the world-famous art collections, architecture and landscape of this region.

“Grand Tourists transformed British taste by bringing home with them a fascination with the culture of the ancient world, and its influence on the artistic innovations of the day.

“Our own Grand Tour builds on this history through exhilarating encounters between leading contemporary artists and these world-class collections.

“Contemporary art will shed a new light on the cultural riches of the region through a new Grand Tour that is completely of its time.”

In the first season artist Pablo Bronstein will work with and in response to the Chatsworth collections.

He will curate an exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, displaying historical items from Chatsworth alongside a range of his original drawings.

He has been commissioned to make a series of new work which will be displayed in Chatsworth’s New Gallery and he will also curate a selection of Old Master drawings from the Devonshire Collection, alongside a new drawing of his own in the Old Master Drawings Cabinet.

There will also be a rare chance to see part of Rem Koolhaaz’s exhibition Elements of Architecture at the Harley Gallery and the new Joseph Wright Institute at Derby Museum and Art Gallery will present Wright Revealed.

In the second season Peter Blake will curate a display of miniatures from the Portland Collection at the new Harley Gallery and this will be accompanied by an exhibition of collages from his World Tour series.

Work by Turner Prize winning Simon Starling will be shown alongside an exhibition dedicated to Wright’s years in Italy and performance artist Rose English will present a selected retrospective of her work inspired by the horsemanship of William Cavendish who built the first riding school at Welbeck.