The area has attracted many artists and there is a local community of professional and semi- professional painters, potters, jewellery makers and crafters.
There are a number of outside art installations around the area. Andy Goldsworthy OBE lived in Brough between 1981 and 1985 and returned to build a series of sheepfolds, pinfolds and cones inspired by old structures and cairns. His works can be seen in Warcop, Outhgill and Brough. There are also original sheepfolds in the area with a fine example in Hartley village.
Our Poetry Path – see below – is world famous. This is a circular walk in the Kirkby Stephen countryside containing 12 stones inscribed by Pip Hall with poetry by Meg Peacocke and highlights the months in the year of a hill farmer.
‘Eden Benchmarks’ are a series of stone sculptures along the River Eden. Each one is very different but inspired by the river.
At the top of Mallerstang along Lady Anne’s Highway is the “Watercut” by Mary Bourne, a very striking feature that can be seen from quite a way. The second sculpture is in Stenkrith Park, “The Passage” by Laura White. The next sculpture is in Appleby.
Outside the Upper Eden Visitor Centre there is a pair of carved stone sheepseats celebrating the Swaledale breed carved by Keith Alexander. This is a very popular spot for visitors to rest a while or take photographs.
In the Parish Churchyard you will see a carved wooden lecturn by local artist James Popps which supports the 1605 history. James Popps was also responsible for the sculpture with the hole under the trees which has still be be named, James made this second item during a demonstration on the day that the town celebrated winning the Calor® England Village of the Year in October 2009.
There are a few more anomalies around the area like the Jew Stone at Outhgill, Mallerstang, memorials, boundary stones and markers. We certainly have a thing about building cairns and you will see them on “the tops”, some are named like Lady Anne’s Pillar and High Seat in Mallerstang. The local stone is limestone, red sandstone and breccias named Brockram.
The Poetry Path
Kirkby Stephen has a Poetry Path – on the theme of ‘A year in the life of a fellside farmer’.
Poet Meg Peacocke was asked to write a series of twelve poems, which resonate with sense of place and reflect the farming calendar – hay-making, harvest, hedgelaying and lambing time: “Twin lambs race to the mother, baby-cries Mam! Mam! jolt out of them, and now they jostle the ragged ewe for milk…”
The poems have been carved into a series of stones by letter-cutter Pip Hall, each verse interpreted in ways which add to the impact of the words, and incorporated into walls and stiles, or planted like milestones along the route of the path. Through the stones walkers will be able to trace the course of a farmer’s year simply by following the route, which loops from Stenkrith near Kirkby Stephen to Hartley and back.