Charnwood Geopark Visiting Artist Programme

We collaborated with Charnwood Forest Geopark to offer three artists the chance to engage with the Geopark.

Buck Hill

(Photo credit: Buck Hill: courtesy of Charnwood Forest Geopark)

Charnwood Geopark Visiting Artist Programme

We are collaborating with Charnwood Forest Geopark to offer three artists a chance to engage with Charnwood Forest Geopark.

Background information

LU Arts, Loughborough University’s arts programme, is working in partnership with Charnwood Geopark to offer three artists the opportunity to engage with the unique environment that has been identified as a future UNESCO Geopark.

The aim of these short residencies is to offer artists with an interest in geology, history and the environment, the opportunity to make connections with the site and research some of its interesting histories and unique properties. We hope that this period of research will help develop individual practices and support creative responses to the site.

What is the Visiting Artist opportunity?

Visiting Artists will be paid a fee of £1,000 each plus travel expenses and accommodation (if required). In return they are expected to spend four days researching, visiting and responding to the Charnwood Forest Geopark. See further down this webpage for more information on the Geopark.

At the end of the four days the artists are also expected to deliver a small output that is informed by their research. This could be (but is in no way limited to) a lecture, a workshop, and installation, a walk or performance. We want the output to physically engage with the Geopark so it would need to take place in or around the Geopark itself. There is a budget of up to £500 for any production costs associated with this activity.

LU Arts will be able to facilitate meetings with relevant individuals working in the Geopark, related academics within Loughborough University, or users of the site that makes up the Geopark.

We are particularly interested in hearing from artists whose practice has an interest in geology, environment, and social history. We are also looking for practices where research and collaboration is a key part of the process.

These residencies are an opportunity to start an engagement with the Geopark and will help support further funding bids to develop a larger scale commissions programme that responds to the site.


Deadline for expressions of interest: 12pm on Monday 4 September 2023

Online briefing (with Charnwood Geopark and associated partners): Tuesday 12 September 2023, 2pm

Tour of Charnwood Forest Geopark: Tuesday 19 September 2023

Research work undertaken: mid September - late October 2023

Artist output completed: 31 October 2023

Please note that you are expected to be available for the online briefing and the tour of the site. If this presents a problem then please contact us in advance of submitting an expression of interest by emailing 


We want this opportunity to be accessible to all and will do our best to accommodate any specific access requirements. If you would like to discuss any accessibility issues in advance of applying or to discuss how the opportunity can be made inclusive for you, then please email or call 01509 222948. We understand that travelling to the campus may not be possible for everyone (including those artists with caring responsibilities) and fully support online collaboration where most appropriate.

How to apply

Please supply images of up to five artworks or links to video content along with a brief expression of interest. Images should be formatted as JPEGS no larger than 1MB each. Expressions of interest can be in text form (no more than 250 words) or video (no longer than 2:30 minutes). Please incorporate your expression of interest (text or link to video) and the images and/or links to video content of your work within a single PDF document.

The expression of interest is simply to capture your first ideas, thoughts and responses to the call out; we are not looking for in-depth proposals. Please email your expression of interest to

Contact us

We have tried to outline some possible areas of focus, modes of collaboration, as well as offer some context for this programme. If you are interested in applying but are not sure whether your practice or ideas are a good fit, or have any other questions, please email Nick Slater, Director of LU Arts at

Where is the Geopark?

The Charnwood Forest Geopark is located in North West Leicestershire.

a map detailing the borders of Charnwood Geopark

Charnwood Forest Geopark

Over 600 million years, Charnwood Forest has built up layers of heritage that make it unique: Geology & Fossils. The volcanic rocks of Charnwood are some of the oldest in England, having been created 600 million years ago in the southern oceans, and contain evidence that caused us to rethink how life evolved on our planet.

In 1957, a fossil was found which proved that complex life forms existed much earlier than previously thought. Named Charnia masoni, it is of international importance and has subsequently been found in only a handful of locations on Earth.

As a result of its geology, Charnwood contains a wealth of nationally and internationally important biodiversity and geodiversity. Despite covering less than 10% of Leicestershire, Charnwood Forest contains more than 50% of its Sites of Special Scientific Interest (by area) and 67% of its designated areas for geodiversity. Recent archaeological investigations at Bradgate Park have identified evidence of Palaeolithic hunter gatherers dating back 15,000 years.

Since then, humans have had a profound influence on the landscape of Charnwood Forest, from the establishment of priories in the 12th Century and the Medieval clearance of woodland to build villages, through to the growth of quarrying and creation of The National Forest. Charnwood Forest also has a rich social history: Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for just nine days in 1553, was born at Bradgate House; Beaumanor Hall was a WWII Signals Intelligence collection site, gathering enemy communications to pass to Bletchley Park; and a young David Attenborough’s enthusiasm for the natural world was fuelled by exploring Charnwood Forest.

The Charnwood Forest Geopark is being developed as part of the Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership Scheme which was awarded National Lottery Heritage funding in 2020. This five-year scheme is promoting awareness and understanding of Charnwood Forest through 18 projects, developed and implemented by 18 partner organisations. It will enable and encourage people to explore its rich landscape and diverse heritage. It will provide deeper engagement for residents and visitors, while contributing to the local economy. It will coordinate management at a landscape-scale to make Charnwood’s heritage more resilient to growing pressures. Most importantly, it will create a greater sense of local pride, inspiring communities to restore the character of this special place: ‘Made by volcanoes, shaped by people’.

This initial programme will help support a planned bid to be a UNESCO Global Geopark. There are currently 195 Geoparks worldwide in 48 countries.

About UNESCO Geoparks

UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Geoparks are areas of exceptional geological significance. All of the UK’s geoparks have internationally significant geology, but what makes them special is that they are community-led partnerships that promote an appreciation of natural and cultural heritage while supporting the sustainable economic development of the area, primarily through geological and eco-tourism.

Useful links

More information on Charnwood Forest Lanscape Partnership

Visit Discover Charnwood website

Visit Charnwood Forest Geopark's YouTube channel