Plan your perfect Adventure...

Beneath the Beacon Automaton Alphabet comes to Cumbria this Summer

An amazing collection of mechanical sculptures is coming to Penrith, Cumbria this summer, telling the stories of famous and overlooked characters. 

A visit to the Beneath the Beacon Automaton Alphabet is sure to be one of the summer's most fascinating days out for visitors to the area. 

Beneath the Beacon will be on display throughout the Penrith from 28 July to 2 September.  Each letter of the alphabet goes with a Cumbrian character, some famous and others less well-known.  They include the Yellow Earl, Hugh Lowther; Sarah Losh, visionary artist who designed Wreay Church and inspired the Arts and Crafts movement; Keswick suffragist Catherine Marshall; and pioneer aviator and cross-Channel rowing record holder, Revd Sydney Swann. 

Visitors will be able to follow a trail around 13 venues in the town.  The Eden Valley Artists Network Gallery will host an exhibition of 14 of the Alphabet figures in story boxes, while 12 moving Automata will find homes in shops and other venues across the town. 

Artist Dawn Hurton who has made the 26 figures explained, 'Beneath the Beacon brings to life the characters of Penrith and north east Cumbria and tells their stories, as seen through the years from the Beacon on the hill above the town. 

'Back in 1787 James Clarke published a survey of Cumberland and Westmorland in which he described the landscape that could be seen from the hill above Penrith, looking out as far as Scotland and the Yorkshire Dales.  Over the years all the Beneath the Beacon stories could be seen unfolding from the vantage point above the town.   

'I hope the project will inspire local people and visitors to discover more about the town and its surroundings,  finding out about the people who shaped and were shaped by this fascinating and beautiful part of the world.'

The automata on the trail around the town will have coin-operated mechanisms using 20p pieces with all proceeds going to local charity Hospice at Home.  The story boxes in the exhibition at the EVAN Gallery will be in the style of 'retablos'. 

Dawn explained, 'Retablos were used historically as portable shrines by militaries but over time became appropriated by indigenous cultures as a way of capturing stories of everyday life.   I hope that people will think of them as local heirlooms, reminding us of the way we are all shaped by where we live and by those who have been here before us.

'I'm grateful to the Arts Council, Penrith Town Council and the Penrith Business Improvement District for helping to bring the exhibition to the town.'

More information including images of the figures in the Automaton Alphabet can be found on the Beneath the Beacon website.