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Haltwhistle Autumn Walking Festival is given added zest by sculptor's project; Haydon Bridge artist charmed by 18th Century Quaker Meeting House which becomes part of creative project.

Byline: Tony Henderson

While out walking, sculptor Julie Livsey stumbled upon a fascinating piece of Northumberland's past.

As Julie looked around the interior of the 18th Century Coanwood Meeting House near Haltwhistle, the seeds were sown for a creative project.

Now she has joined the organisers of the Haltwhistle Autumn Walking Festival, which starts today (Saturday) to provide a destination with added interest for one of the event's walks on October 10. The festival runs until October 11.

Julie says of her project at the Meeting House, opened by Quakers in 1760: "It is an amazing place in a remote spot, and has its original interior, with pews, partitions and fireplace.

"Most people must find it through walking because it is in a very secluded place.

"It certainly has a presence because of its idyllic location and the fact that it is open and hasn't changed."

Julie, who lives in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, won backing from Arts Council England for her project.

"While walking, I collect natural things like thistledown, bog cotton and dandelion seeds and this is the sort of material I decided to use in the Meeting House," said Julie.

She has taken words from Quaker texts, such as truth, trust, within yourself, matters, caring, thou, silent and eternity.

The words have been reproduced, using the natural materials, across walls, ceiling, along windows and partitions.

Julie has also used swan down, tawny owl down from a road kill, and horse hair.

She says: "Using material like individual dandelion seeds is incredibly painstaking and meticulous.

"In some ways it reflects the samplers and quilts stitched by Quaker women.

"It also reflects the history of the Meeting House, which people will love anyway. It is like bringing the outside inside.

"The delicate nature of the lettering will echo the simple, uncluttered beauty of the Meeting House."

Julie is also holding workshops with pupils from the local Herdley Bank School, who are using natural materials to develop their own messages.

The six-mile circular walk starts at 11am on October 10. Booking for all festival walks is on 01434 322 025. Details on www.haltwhistlewalkingfestival.org

The programme includes:

Sunday October 4: Maiden Way walk starting south of Bewcastle and arriving at Birdoswald Roman fort. Also Whitley Chapel walk taking in the restored Dukesfield Arches,.

October 5: Walk on the wild side of Hadrian's Wall, also Tipalt Burn walk with a Park Ranger

October 6: Crags, Loughs and a Wall following the Whin Sill. Plus Beacons, Bastle & Haughs, leaving from Allendale. Also Geltsdale RSPB reserve.

October 7: "Waters Meet" and Warden Hill

October 8: Kielder Stane Revisited climbing to the top of Peel Fell. Also Gilsland and its history, plus

Bellister National Trust walk.

October 9: Start of three- day walk from Corbridge to Haltwhistle. Also Brampton and Talkin Tarn.

October 10: Around Broomlee Lough.

October 11: Halton lea Gate circular. Also Archaeology Walk (Goatstones).

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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 3, 2015
Words:483
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