Sculpture Commission, Countryside Museum, Hawes

Dales Countryside Museum – Sculpture Trail


Sculpture Trail

This page outlines the Design and Access considerations for the Sculpture Trail and commissioned sculpture –  follow links below for other details about the project

Stages of Carving          Sculpture Commission         Commission Brief          Grand Opening

Sculpture Trail

Hidden Secrets Sculpture Trail

Design and Access statement – Dales Countryside Museum

Hidden Secrets of the Dales Project


Design Principles

This project would create a stimulating and creative outdoor space within which people of all ages will be encouraged to explore and appreciate the cultural, wildlife, landscape and built heritage of the Dales.  It would be a positive addition to the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) tourist offer and may be a way of attracting new visitors, particularly families and groups who are less confident in a countryside environment, to visit the Dales Countryside Museum and Hawes.

The outdoor space would feature artwork by Yorkshire artists and craftspeople and highlight the skills and creativity of contemporary makers.  A range of interpretive points would, through historic links, highlight contemporary trades within the Dales and would act as signposts to other sites in the area.  The area would be buggy and wheelchair friendly.  Materials would reflect the environment of the Dales and would take into account both the natural and built surroundings.

The project will make effective use of the whole DCM site and enhance the range of things there are to see and do, for family visitors and groups.  It will enable the Museum to respond to the findings of the Richmondshire DC report on Upper Wensleydale.  This specifically highlighted the need to improve the tourist offer.  It would justify an increase in the admission fee, which would potentially generate income to contribute both to the costs of operating the site, cover future maintenance costs for the outdoor area and enable new opportunities to be offered to artists and craftspeople.  This would in turn offer event opportunities and the potential for future community projects.

The project will be promoted through Art Connections, local media and the DCM pages of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority website.


The project would provide the opportunity to commission Yorkshire artists and craftspeople and would be a way of raising awareness of their work and promoting it to visitors.  The outdoor space will be an additional feature that will increase the attractiveness of the site for visitors and can be used within any future marketing.  It could also be added to in the future whenever funds allowed.  DCM will work with Chrysalis Arts Dev Ltd to create additionality to the project, primarily through Chrysalis working with DCM as one of the centres from which the Art Geo Cache is run.

Site Appraisal

The outdoor Hidden Secrets space will be located within the boundary of the Dales Countryside Museum and will reflect the heritage of the area in its broadest sense.  The Museum currently hosts art and craft exhibitions and the outdoor space will provide the opportunity for the site to increasingly act as a focus for artistic and creative activity within the Dales.  People will be able to explore heritage through art and outdoor interpretive points.  The commissions would be a combination of sculptural pieces and interpretive elements.  They would feature the various industries and activities associated with the Dales and would link the heritage of the area with contemporary activities.

A sheet would be given out at the DCM reception desk.  This will provide additional opportunities for staff to speak to visitors and to promote the joint attraction/business trail in Hawes.  Together with the ‘Hidden Secrets’ sheet, the outdoor artworks and interpretive points would provide a means of signposting people to artists’s studios (where appropriate), other attractions, areas of interest and current events and festivals.  The project will provide the opportunity for local schools or community groups to work with a creative writer and for their ideas to be fed into the pieces.  This will provide a connection between local children and the DCM site.   Future artists; residencies or workshops could continue to develop this relationship.


There are two natural areas within the site that are currently inaccessible.  Paths will be created to provide access to these areas to the East and West of the site, including the area under the bridge which runs to the beck-side and round to the left.  Creating access to this land and using it to explore the various aspects of the heritage of the area would be a great addition to the DCM experience.  Access points will be built to lead people off the north platform, down to the area under the bridge and back up onto the south platform.  It could be used, amongst other things, to highlight the use o water power, built heritage, railway heritage, habitats and the wildlife of the Dales.  We could create a natural outdoor shelter for visitors, a storytelling area and interpretive benches or seating as commissioned pieces.  These could potentially link with local library initiatives and would be promoted through Creative North Yorkshire.

Images of artworks or interpretive units will not be available until we are able to commission artists, but a full design brief will be produced and agreed with planning officers on confirmation of funding.  The brief will specify the parameters set by planning, such as limitations on size, height and materials.  The pieces would be a maximum of 2m (l) x 2 m (w) x 3m (h).  From the south, the majority of the pieces will be shielded by the Museum buildings, loco and carriages and from the north by the Access Ranger office, bridge and planting.  The type of materials used would reflect and compliment the environment and it is anticipated that the majority would either have natural, or where necessary, stone bases.  Examples of interpretive commissions used within other trails are available to view.

We would use IT to present the heritage of the Yorkshire Dales in new ways.  We are currently investigating the use of bar code technology via a pilot project with a local school and would hope to incorporate this within the outdoor area.  We would also be keen to incorporate sound points and make use of technology such as blue tooth and GPS in relation to both art and interpretive geocache points.


The YDNPA work with target groups has highlighted that the barrier to them choosing to visit DCM is the lack of an indication of what they may find inside.  They need some idea of what it is they will be committing to, prior to entering the building.  By creating this additional experience we will potentially be able to boost the number of paying visitors to the Dales Countryside Museum.  An exciting feature would be created for the entrance point.  The sculpture would incorporate an element of movement, enable people to interact with it and would relate to the content of the Museum and the heritage of the area.  It would provide a taste of what else is on offer on site, would direct visitors into the building and provide an incentive for people to enter the building.  Both family audiences and those visitors who are less confident within the countryside environment will be encouraged to visit the Museum and ultimately Hawes.

Local contractors, YDNPA staff and volunteers would create the path, access points and undertake landscaping work in accordance with disability guidelines.  The Upper Wensleydale Range will advise in relation to this aspect of the work.  Materials used for the decking and ramps will all meet the necessary standards to provide access to the outdoor space from the main building.  The Dales Countryside Museum encourages public transport use by offering discounts to those arriving on public transport.  The outdoor area will fit with the existing transport links of the Museum.


A commissioning process would be implemented to enable the engagement of artists .  This would be led by the Museum Manager together with the YDNPA Interpretation Officer and a steering group of Friends.  The paths will be created sensitively whilst conforming to disability guidelines.  The combination of commissioned artworks and smaller interpretive elements will ensure a balanced approach.  Any pieces produced will complement the area within which it is sited and reflect the heritage of the Dales.  The entrance sculpture will be significant but within the parameters agreed with Planning Officers.

Policy Review

The project will reflect the principles described within the YDNPA Design Guide, particularly in relation to the use of materials.  In particular, the project will support the aims of the Yorkshire Dales Local Plan.  The policies set out in the Yorkshire Dales Local Plan are intended to contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the National Park Authority; these are:

to protect, maintain and enhance the scenic beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area

to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the parks by the public


The project will link the outdoor and indoor areas and make the whole site more effective.  The route outside will be circular and accessed via the main building.


The sculptural  pieces and interpretive elements will vary in scale and material.  They will be in keeping with the habitats, buildings and other built features within the area in which they are located.


The landscape design will support the local character and image.  Materials reflecting the elements of the Dales and traditional crafts of the area will be used for the sculptural pieces.  The decking is sustainably sourced soft wood and typical of that used traditionally on public rights of way.  The footpath surface will be crushed limestone 20mm to dust and will finish flush to the surrounding area.  The boundary treatments will not be altered.