Our gallery is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday (excluding bank holidays). All exhibitions are free of charge.
Bishop Oakland by Bethan Maddocks
Monday 11 July to Saturday 27 August 2022
Inspired by the ancient trees and forests of County Durham visitors will explore a forest full of paper tree trunks, unfurling foliage and coloured leaves that they can touch, listen, play and add to.
Exploring the forest you will find spotted trees and striped bark – patterns taken from fossil records of Sigillaria and Lepidodendron -ancient tree relatives that grew in this area 250 million years ago and formed the coal beneath us.
Looking up you will find oak leaves, acorns, and rough oak bark representing the ancient native woodland of County Durham.
After walking through a giant forest; ferns rising up, branches and leaves stretching down, visitors will be able to create their own paper artwork to take home or add, as Bishop Oakland grows and blooms over the summer.
The artwork will encourage play and reflection and will celebrate the forests and associated industry of the area whilst also acknowledging that we have to care for our limited resources and our region’s diverse nature.
An accompanying soundscape created by Rob Griffiths includes original sound recordings of woodland across the North East.
Bethan Maddocks is a visual artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She was born in Bishop Auckland and grew up in Wolsingham, spending her childhood exploring lots of the wild spaces and great trees of County Durham with her family.
Bishop Oakland was first developed at Woodhorn Museum for their Coal Forest season, with research supported by The Dover Prize. The exhibition was also selected as the winner of our Open Art Exhibition last year.
If you are interested in exploring more of the area’s wilder spaces there are the nearby Bellburn and Brusselton woods as well as local, ancient trees such as Bishop’s Oak in Baal Hill Woods, the three sisters in Harperley Woods, Darlington South Park’s huge Wellingtonia or even Stanhope’s fossilised Sigillaria in the local churchyard.