LONDON.- This new Sky Arts series, in partnership with Tate Britain, presents an epic travelogue through British art in the company of Danny Baker, Simon Callow, Richard E Grant, Cerys Matthews, Miriam Margolyes and Michael Sheen, as they each journey to discover the landscapes that inspired their favourite paintings, chosen from Tates national collection.
From William Hogarth, John Constable, JMW Turner, Alfred Wallis, William Powell Frith and Josef Herman we see the lush green countryside, gritty urban cityscapes and wild romantic coasts that seduced these artistic greats.
Along the way, art historian Gus Casely-Hayford accompanies the guests as they not only discover the stories behind their chosen paintings, but also the local characters and contemporary artists that still reflect the scenes caught on canvas decades, if not hundreds of years, ago.
Actor, writer and musician Simon Callow chooses painter William Powell Friths Derby Day (1856-58) in Epsom Downs, near Surrey. Gus and Simon are propelled back into the entertaining world of this Victorian society painter, infamous for his crowd scenes packed with social stereotypes. If Charles Dickens was capturing the highs and lows of life at the time in literature, it was his great friend Powell Frith who was doing it in paint.
Award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes has long adored the work of Alfred Wallis, a love that began in her young adulthood. While a student at Cambridge, she rented a Wallis painting and had it hung on the wall of her student digs. Gus and Miriam head to the coastal art jewel of the British Isles St Ives, which is also the name of her chosen painting. While charging through the cobbled lanes of this quaint fishing village, Miriam discovers Wallis was nothing like her preconceptions and that his work is far more surprising and subtle than she had ever imagined.
Welsh acting royalty Michael Sheen leaves Hollywood and returns to South Wales, where he explores the mining communities indelibly captured by the Polish painter and Jewish emigre Josef Herman, in his chosen painting Three Miners (1953). Michael is astonished at Hermans brilliance in capturing the lives of local miners from 50 years ago with just a few charcoal lines, as well as his uncanny ability to paint the autumnal haze that fills these stunning and rugged landscapes.
We all think we know Turner as the wild and brilliant master of British art, for his iconic violent seascapes and scenes of Victorian life, but Cerys Matthews, singer, songwriter and broadcaster, loves him for his gentle and still works. In this walk, we see Cerys head to the Scottish Borders to discover the majestic Norham Castle, painted by Turner in 1798. The Northumberland landscape inspired Turner throughout his life and is one that Cerys feels is full of Celtic poetry and magic.
Creative England has co-funded and executive produced Tate Britains Great British Walks as part of their on-going commitment to investing in content from independent producers in regional England outside of Greater London.
Tate Britains Great British Walks was commissioned for Sky Arts by Bill Hobbins and is produced by 7 Wonder, with Mike Reilly as Executive Director and Michelle Crowther, Series Producer.