Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are cultural landscapes of local and national value. They are the product of people and place. They are an important element of our collective and individual identity and always represent much more than can be easily expressed.
We have a history of expressing the value of AONBs through the language of policy, by which the emotions of place are inadequately distilled into the tools of protection, but the reality is that we experience landscape; it triggers emotion. To describe landscape to others without invoking an experience is to fundamentally ignore our relationship with place and miss what it is to be human.
The beauty of these areas is often intangible and always vulnerable. Whether your spirits are lifted by a lone walk along a grassy hillside or refreshed by the intimacy of a woodland walk with a friend, their special qualities are experienced, felt, and ultimately understood. To recognise the experiential element of landscape and create opportunities for others to access the value this can bring to their lives is part of their effective curation.
The arts are a central mechanism for helping this happen. The creative exploration of place, through music, painting, poetry, and dance opens up the experience of landscape beyond the world of science and policy and helps us better understand our place in the world. With better understanding comes better stewardship; the basis of a more sustainable future.
The NAAONB therefore, commits to a deeper exploration into the relationship between arts and landscape. We will actively promote the relationship between landscape and art and optimise our engagement with artists and producers in order to ensure our most precious landscapes are more accessible and more widely understood and appreciated by the nation.
See NAAONB Chief Executive Howard Davies introduce the Arts in the Landscape and our commitment to exploring the relationship between art and landscape.