About

(Ancient) History

Early Days
The Grizedale Society as it was then known, established its arts programme over 35 years ago, centered principally on theatre and visual art. The art programme achieved international significance, contributing to the discourse and development of public art in Britain through the 1980’s. Artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Harris made particularly significant and much-imitated works in the forest at this time, and the period is well documented in the illustrated book 'The Grizedale Experience: Sculpture, Arts and Theatre in a Lakeland Forest' edited by Paul Harris and founding director Bill Grant (Canongate Books, 1991).

Ups & Downs
In 1990 the programme won the prestigious Prudential Award for the Arts for achievements over the previous decade. However under a succession of different directorships, the subsequent programme failed to maintain its central position in the UK visual arts scene and lost its status.

Wind of Change
In 1999 the Board took the decision to close the Grizedale Visitor Centre's 'Theatre In The Forest' and focus - for strategic and financial reasons- on the visual arts programme. Under new director Adam Sutherland the intention was to reinvigorate Grizedale and also to return it to the significant position within the arts community it had enjoyed in the 1980's.

Read about this history of our headquarters at Lawson Park farm here.