Secret Severn Arts
The Secret Severn Arts Group was formed in 2016 with the express purpose of promoting art in the Ironbridge Gorge. It was the brainchild of two established local printmakers – Hazel McNab and Amanda Hillier – who recognized the existing local talent and wanted to bring together artists in a co-operative approach to promoting the visual arts. Artists were invited to join the group and it now has around 45 members, who are all based within the Ironbridge Gorge area.
The first full “art trail” was trialled in September 2016 and proved to be popular with the general public – both people from within the local area and tourists coming into the World heritage Site. The idea was to promote a number of established and new art exhibition sites in the form of a “trail” which would extend from Coalbrookdale and Dale End through to Jackfield and Coalport. The 2019 trail is more extensive and includes main gallery sites at Fusion ( The Footprint Gallery ) and Ironbridge Fine Arts, with nine open studios based at The Maws Centre and Fusion, and seven open-house studios placed around the local area.
In addition there is a programme of art workshops covering collage, printmaking, screen printing, and drawing; a resident poet recording the experiences during the trail; and a resident artist painting every day at Footprint Gallery. Secret Severn is also including an evening Haiku performance and a film festival based at Coalbrookdale Community Centre. The 2019 trail programme, starts with the launch evening at Footprint Gallery on the evening of Thursday 19th September, and continues through to Sunday 29th September.
The general public will have the opportunity to visit eighteen venues across the Gorge; watch artists at work; participate in workshops and purchase a range of art at affordable prices. Secret Severn Arts believe that it is important to involve more people in the enjoyment of viewing and, hopefully, expressing themselves through creating their own art. We believe that art is probably the only medium which can excite and communicate with all sections of our community and that this interaction is perhaps more important than ever.
This year, the trail is part of the wider “Festival of the Imagination” and Secret Severn have been really fortunate to have the full support and backing of Telford and Wrekin Council. This support has included funding from Arts Council England; much more extensive publicity and promotion; and the creation of an online booking system for those wanting to take part in the workshop programme. We are also very grateful to those local organisations who have supported the trail through sponsorship and provision of free venues for our exhibitions and workshops.
Chair, 11th July 2019