Lake District’s Aerial Festival Moves Online

(Photo John Shedwick)

Lake District’s innovative new festival of original work and commissions – online and free from 26 September 2020.

  • Over 20 new works and commissions from over 40 artists will be accessible online and for free via from 26th September
  • Including new EP ‘Aerial Songs’ from former Wild Beasts frontman and ‘artist in residence’ Hayden Thorpe
  • A mini-series from Natalie Sharp (Lone Taxidermist) part-biography part-travelogue exploring personal history set against the esoteric rituals of Cumbria’s west coast
  • A major international project inspired by Wordsworth 250 and the tumultuous global events of 2020 in partnership with The Quietus and The Willowherb Review
  • New work from Caught By The River, Corbel Stone Press and 24hr online radio broadcast from The Dark Outside, a series of commissions reflecting on the Lake District in lockdown and much more

Like every festival this year, Aerial – the Lake District’s new festival of original work and commissions – has had to change its plans. 2020 was intended to be Aerial’s inaugural year but a certain global pandemic has meant presenting live performance, especially in the confines of intimate village venues, is now impossible.

Aerial has adapted, cancelled all live shows and used this unique situation as an opportunity to focus on the core purpose of Aerial – a commitment to commissioning amazing artists to make new work and asking them to respond to the natural, social and cultural history of the Lake District and Cumbria. All ticket holders have been offered either full refunds or the opportunity to donate the price of the ticket to local foodbanks.

On Saturday 26th September Aerial will release these commissions online for free for everyone to enjoy, hosted at it will over time become an extensive archive of new work commissioned by the festival.

Supported by Great Place Lakes and Dales an NLHF and ACE funded programme, this significant body of work will feature new music from Kendal-born, ex-Wild Beast and Aerial artist-in-residence Hayden Thorpe, including 2020 a specially commissioned piece created in collaboration with Deepthroat Choir.

Natalie Sharp AKA Lone Taxidermist is also an artist in residence for Aerial. Hailing from Cumbria’s west coast she is returning home to explore her upbringing through a series of short films, reflecting on life as a first generation immigrant in small town Cumbria set against the arcane, esoteric rituals and traditions that bubble under the surface of everyday life.

Prelude 2020 is a series of commissions asking artists to respond to the tumultuous events of 2020 inspired in part by Wordsworth’s epic poem The Prelude and the Wordsworth 250 celebrations. Aerial has partnered with Europe’s largest online culture magazine The Quietus to offer five commissions to artists working in sound featuring Tom Fox and Nick Murray, Rob Walker, Viridian Ensemble, Alice Jones and Hawthonn.

Aerial has also partnered with The Willowherb Review, a journal dedicated to diversity in nature writing, to commission five writers, with new work from Pratyusha, Jennifer Neal, Kaliane Bradley, Amanda Thomson and Karen Larbi.

Sound of Silence will be a series of sound works from artists with deep connections to Cumbria all responding to the Lakes in lockdown. Commissioned through an open call it will see new work from Andrew Tomlinson, Taylor Nuttall & Emma Nuttall, Polly Atkin & Will Smith, Michael Denny & Simon Sylvester and Jack McNeill.

The Dark Outside presents The Da-Dark Outside; a one-off 24hr online radio broadcast featuring sounds and music no-one has ever heard (or will hear again) with a conscious lean to the weird, experimental and left field inspired by the legacy of artist Kurt Schwitters.

Corbel Stone Press celebrate their 10th anniversary with contributions of music and films from Richard Skelton and Autumn Richardson and spoken word from many of their acclaimed poets and writers, including, Penelope Shuttle, Gerry Loose, Andy Hopkins, Peter O’Leary, Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright.

The wonderful Caught By The River present words and sounds including BBC’s Stuart Maconie on his own experiences climbing the mountains of the Lakes and paying tribute to Harry Griffin. Author Roy Wilkinson will talk about growing up in Kendal and the start of his brothers’ group, British Sea Power. The UK’s foremost field recording artist Chris Watson presents Lake District recordings from his archives. There will also be new recordings from Jack Cooper (Modern Nature) and contributions from author Helen Mort.

Following this innovative online experience, Aerial plans to return as a live experience in 2021.

Sam Hunt from Aerial said: “We were obviously disappointed not to stage Aerial as planned but we’re confident what we’ve come up with is a great, if a little unconventional, way to launch the first iteration of Aerial. What really excites us as a team is working with amazing artists and supporting them to create new work which in some small way is inspired by this place. The opportunity to rethink the festival has enabled us to do just that and this significant body of work which we’re making available online for free is a perfect example of why we started Aerial in the first place and a solid bedrock on which to build for the years to come.”

Lindsey Hebden from Great Place Lakes and Dales said: “Whilst the past few months have been challenging for everyone particularly the creative and cultural communities in the Lakes and Dales, GPLD are excited to witness this new iteration of Aerial and must applaud our colleagues in the Aerial team who have worked tirelessly and imaginatively to navigate new territory to respond responsibly but innovatively to bring new ways to experience the creativity and cultural heritage of the Lakes, helping us realise our initial aspirations of the festival to profile the area to new audiences but most importantly to inspire a new generations of artists.

“We are also encouraged by the diverse range of new work and response from local and international artists to the series of commissions and it will be interesting to see how the beautiful landscapes and natural environment of the Lakes inform them and particularly how 2020 has shaped their expression.”

All new commissions will be online from 26th September 2020 at:

Arts – Cumbria Crack