Clara paints in the spirit of Wordsworth

New work by the artist in residence at Rydal Mount will be going on display soon.

Clara Li-Dunne is aiming to capture the romantic atmosphere at Rydal Mount’s house and garden where Wordsworth nurtured his poetic works and published a great many masterpieces. 

Now her first series of work at the house describes how nature changes in four seasons, “and to find romance, the audience will find a heart shape within the painting, for which I used a heart shape stone that I found outside the tearoom of Rydal Mount.”

Clara is more familiar than most with Wordsworth, his life and work, and the beautiful house near Ambleside, having worked there as a guide for the past nine years. Originally from Hong Kong, she has a degree in fine art and is a qualified teacher.

Clara became interested in ‘camera-less photography’ while studying for her BA (Hons) and MA in Fine Art in the 1990s, and was inspired to develop her current practice in painting.

‘I was always fascinated by how nature evolves in its own time; and also the unnoticeable mutation within nature,’ she says. ‘The creations of the images of abstract landscape were from my memories of colours and shapes while out walking, hiking or cycling.’

She uses pigment powders, graphite and sand to build up layers of the mediums like the formation in nature.  ‘A subtle change of the perspective caused by the refraction of light between the colours symbolises the mutation of nature. I also photograph shapes and forms created by natural light to create a new landscape.’

Clara follows in the footsteps of Helen Johnson, from Alston, who was artist in residence at Rydal last year. A former head teacher who is now a full-time artist, Helen produced pieces of work on five themes which match the writing and ideas of Wordsworth: spirituality, family and relationships, emotions, nature, and excursions.

Curator at Rydal Mount Emily Heath said that Clara’s work as an artist brought a new dimension to the place. “Clara’s art is really beautiful and she has some fascinating ideas. And of course, she is a true expert on Wordsworth and his work.”

Wordsworth’s garden in new nationwide project

The garden at Rydal Mount will represent the Lake District in an exciting new interactive online exhibition.

Rydal Mount near Ambleside, along with another home of William Wordsworth, Dove Cottage at Grasmere, has collaborated with Google Arts and Culture to feature in Gardens United, a new project which has just launched.

The exhibition aims to help visitors be inspired by the breadth and wonder of green spaces around the UK.

It’s an interactive online resource celebrating gardens around the UK, which is the result of a collaboration between Rydal Mount and more than 30 cultural partners around the country.

They include Alexandra Palace Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Alnwick Garden, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, and Blenheim Palace Gardens in Oxfordshire.

“From archives, museums, botanic gardens and heritage bodies, this enables you to learn from leading experts and community gardeners about topics ranging from health and wellbeing, food growing, urban gardening and much more,” said Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts and Culture. “Gardens United gives everyone, everywhere an opportunity to explore, learn and discover gardens through a new lens.” 

In more than 150 curated online exhibitions, Gardens United presents an enormous archive of over 4,000 items including photos, videos, ASMR tours and Google Street View tours. These show how gardens have always held a special place in our lives, how important they are for our health and wellbeing, what gardening can do to help support the planet and look back through botanical history from Darwin’s garden to royal landscapes. 

Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of William Wordsworth, whose family still own Rydal Mount, said that the project was a magnificent opportunity to show the world the wonders of the garden originally planned and designed by the poet.

“We are thrilled to be part of this ground-breaking new exhibition which features the best of everything that’s special about gardens in the UK. The visitors who come here invariably fall in love with the place but we want to be able to tell the story of this wonderful garden to a wider audience.”

Said Amit Sood: “Everyone around the world can find joy in exploring a garden, and through this program we wanted to celebrate this as well as inspire audiences to seek out new gardening experiences. From botanical art to urban gardening, thanks to our incredible partners, Gardens United has something for everyone – even if you are only looking to plan your next staycation itinerary.”

Explore Gardens United on the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS or Android or online

Discover the Rydal Mount partner page here:

Google Arts and Culture puts the treasures, stories and knowledge of more than 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries at your fingertips. It’s your doorway to explore art, history, and wonders of the world. Discover stories about cultural heritage ranging from Museum Island Berlin, Puerto Rico’s heritage, Sports in Australia or the women’s right movement to ancient Maya temples, Japanese Food and Indian Railways

In the footsteps of Wordsworth

The first ever poet-in-residence since the time of Wordsworth himself completed a successful week staying at Rydal Mount.

Kieron Winn spent the time writing, reading, giving a recital of his own poetry, and exploring the Lakes in the footsteps of Wordsworth. That included an ascent of Helvellyn on the summer solstice.

A great admirer of Wordsworth, Kieron has won many poetry awards and accolades and his poetry has been published in many magazines, including The London Magazine, New Statesman, Oxford Magazine, The Spectator and The Times Literary Supplement.

Selections of his poems also appear in anthologies and he has read his poems on BBC TV and radio.

The Mortal Man, Kieron’s first book of poetry was published in 2015 and Melvyn Bragg said of it: “I have had much pleasure reading the poems. There is a real talent for binding centuries together and there are additions to the great Lake District tradition.”

Kieron and his wife Amanda on Helvellyn

Kieron said: “I first visited Rydal Mount in 1987 with my parents, and have made several pilgrimages over the years. I could never have imagined that I’d live there for a week, see the moon from Wordsworth’s attic study, or, most unlikely of all, be allowed to try on his top hat.”

Photo: Amanda Holton

The residency gave him the opportunity to experience life as William Wordsworth had done. “Wordsworth is associated with solitude, but was at the centre of a busy household. I now know what it’s like to live at Rydal Mount when quite a few people are about, including another Mr Wordsworth, the curators and visitors, and that made me feel closer to my favourite poet in his very comfortable house.

“Why is he my favourite? Because he’s so salutary and sensible, with his greatness evident and his human flaws visible. My wife and I had a richly happy week, which we will always remember along with the kindness of the curators Emily and Matt and the Wordsworth family, to whom we express our deep thanks.”

Kieron’s collection of poems, The Mortal Man, is available here: