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Visitors to Studland Bay on Sunday (15 September) will be able to make mountains in the sand and find their heads in the clouds thanks to two uniquely immersive art interventions.

As part of the National Trust’s presentation of Katie Paterson’s new participatory artwork First There Is A Mountain in different locations every Sunday over British Summer Time, Dorset-based outdoor arts producers Activate are hosting Cloudscapes, quietly nestling in a natural amphitheatre signposted from Knoll Beach.

Originally commissioned by Activate Performing Arts in 2016 for the Inside Out Dorset festival, Cloudscapes was created by Lorna Rees of Gobbledegook Theatre as a duologue for performer and clouds. Audiences lie on beanbags and contemplate the ever-changing parade of clouds above them while listening on headphones as Lorna tells a story laced with clouds that’s based on a personal journey of a lifetime she took with her father. 

“If people drift off and fall asleep I take it as the most enormous compliment,” says the Christchurch-based artist.

An uplifting, reflective experience, afterwards audiences visit the Cloud Box, a converted horsebox where Lorna displays artworks and ephemera that relate not only to clouds, but also to her family story.

“I find Cloudscapes incredibly emotional,” she adds. “I have cried every time I’ve performed it. At the end people come and hug me and talk to me about it, it’s very moving.”

Visitors can find First There Is A Mountain at Shell Bay Beach and make their way along the National Trust’s designated Heather Trail to a natural amphitheatre created by wind erosion just behind Knoll Beach, to take part in Cloudscapes.

“Activate is delighted to be working with the National Trust to bring this updated version of Cloudscapes back to the public – it’s such an evocative artwork at a beautiful site,” says Kate Wood, Executive & Artistic Director of Activate.

And with suitably cloudy weather predicted for Studland next Sunday conditions are set fair for a memorable day.

Katie Paterson’s First There Is A Mountain will run from 11am until 3pm with Cloudscapes from 10.30am to 3.30pm to allow early and late visitors time to take part in both and enjoy the stunning Heather Trail in between.

Published 3 September 2019