Hackfall, Landscape Inspiration for Artists

Hackfall and its artists

Hackfall is set in a breath-taking 350ft gorge near the village of Masham, North Yorkshire (see the map link below).

In 1731 a local entrepreneur and former politician, John Aislabie bought the site. He was already famous for designing the landscape at nearby Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal (see Related Links below). It was his son, William who transformed the area into a beautiful wilderness, creating grottos and surprise views, glades, rustic temples hidden in groves of trees, waterfalls and follies.

Many of these features can still be discovered in the woods today.

You can download a  PDF map of Hackfall, that pinpoints all the locations highlighted in this resource - see link below.

Williamís designs were an instant success. 19th Century writers hailed it as one of the most beautiful woodlands in the country while tourists flocked to experience it for themselves. There is something about the wild splendour of Hackfall that simply inspires creativity. Many artists have, and continue to use Hackfall as a canvas for their work - from romantic landscape artist JMW Turner to contemporary print maker Hester Cox.

Hester Cox uses the effects of the sun and shadows to create drawings and digital photographs before making an etching or relief plate from which to make her final print image - The Meeting Place featured on this page. Hester's inspiration is often derived from the natural landscape, the plants and wildlife that inhabit it and the stories, myths and symbolism associated with them. She uses multiple plates and techniques to echo the layers of meaning and metaphor in the images. Poetry and the written word are also starting points for an idea.

The pages in this resource move around the woods to different points revealing art for each one.


You can view a Channel 5 video of Hackfall and also learn more about its history on the Woodland Trust website - see Related Links below.

This is Hackfall, north of the village of Grewelthorpe and south of Masham»

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