Mesmerising and powerful artwork featuring the masked and unmasked faces of the Penrith and Eden community was projected on a huge scale onto the side of St Andrews Church this week, as an alternative arts project to the usual Winter Droving.
All the people featured in Face.Masks had been nominated by the public for their acts of kindness or care in the community. Alongside the faces of the people, the work featured quotes from those who nominated them, highlighting their kind acts, kind words or the impact they have made.
Adrian Lochhead, director of Eden Arts, which created the work, said: “These people are ordinary and what they do seems ordinary and normal to them, but collectively they are what keeps communities going. Without them we would be quite empty and grim.
“I felt that I wanted to put them up big and allow people to contemplate them. That it is in a church is significant — the work is spiritual, people have something to believe in, to have faith in.”
Adrian collaborated with Cumbrian artist Zoe Forster to create the work.
Zoe said: “I’ve recently been intrigued by moving portraits — a film, but a photograph.
An image of what could be a statue, or even a still frame, until the person being filmed cracks a smile, blinks or even hugs their partner.
“I like to think — being a normal person who happens to have a knack for capturing a moment through a lens — that the people being filmed or photographed can feel more at ease and that the experience isn’t just taking an image, but giving something back to the subject; a conversation between the person photographing and the person being photographed.”
More than 200 people attended the first night of the projections, which runs until tonight.
Jacqui Taylor, from learning disability charity 4Eden, who appeared in the work, went along to see it and said it was a fantastic show and very moving.
“Very well done to all involved,” she said.
“Each face told its own story of the strain of the pandemic, mixed with smiles and compassion — truly grounding.
“It was lovely to see so many faces of our community’s volunteers and workers and families.”
Mr Lochhead added: “It has been great to be able to conceive a new work in this difficult time and to be able to hold an actual event, when all around us festivals and events have been cancelled.
“The whole team has worked really hard to ensure a safe and socially distant event and it was great to see the community come out and be moved by the work.”
Alongside the Face.Masks work, hidden in the beautifully lit trees is The Faery Trail by Lucas Chih-Peng Kao, who is a Taiwanese filmmaker/director based in Edinburgh, who the Eden Arts team met through their Artist Spare Room programme, when Lucas came to do a week long residency.
The work has been supported by Arts Council England, Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council, Penrith BID, Penrith Lottery.