HIGH-PROFILE artist Mackenzie Thorpe has been helping school pupils welcome the Tour de Yorkshire with a poignant piece of land art created from donated trainers.
The artist has been in North Yorkshire helping students from Bedale High School create an enormous piece of artwork in a field just outside the town, which will host the finish of stage one of the women’s race and stage two of the men’s race on Friday, May 3.
The artwork, organised by Mackenzie Thorpe’s Arthaus gallery in Richmond, is raising money for the Tour de Yorkshire’s official charity, Help for Heroes. It depicts one of Mackenzie Thorpe’s recognisable hearts spread across a field, with the number seven at its centre. The number represents the seven individuals who every day are medically discharged from the Armed Forces and raises awareness of the issues facing veterans and their families.
The land art creation is made up entirely of new and old trainers donated by students, parents and staff from Bedale High School, local primary schools and also community donations which were dropped off at collection points at RAF Leeming and the Co-op store in Bedale.
Mackenzie and his team have been working with Bedale High School students and their art teacher, Sarah Allsop to create the land art, which is situated in a field close to the school on Exelby Road. The use of the field was donated by a local farmer.
This week, Bedale High School students were involved in laying the land art heart with the donated trainers alongside Mackenzie Thorpe, primary school pupils, military personnel and Help for Heroes representatives, they were also joined by staff and residents from The Millings Care Home in Bedale, who came to support the project and see the artwork being put together.
Mackenzie Thorpe, the official artist for this year’s Tour de Yorkshire, said: “This is essentially to get the next generation of young people involved in art and to work with a real artist, passing down ideas and breaking down barriers. What we’re doing is creating something together.
“They started creating this in a school building, when they started putting shoes down, then moving back and looking at them and walking back to them.
“It felt like leaving flowers and it was very poignant and intense, it became very real.”
Tom Kelly, Bedale High School’s headteacher said the school will be closed on Friday, May 3, to enable the students to take part in the community celebrations taking part in Bedale.
It is hoped that the Tour de Yorkshire would inspire further fundraising for the school’s upcoming Coast to Coast cycle ride when volunteer staff, students, parents and members of the local community will be cycling from Arnside to Scarborough, approximately 150 miles over three days to raise money for the children’s cancer charity Candlelighters.
Other North Yorkshire County Council schools have also been hard at work creating their own pieces of land art, which should be seen from the helicopters recording the aerial footage of the race as it happens.
Bedale Primary School pupils have been working closely with Bedale Golf Club to produce land art using golf equipment and recycled school uniform.
The school has collected old uniforms in blue and yellow which will be used to make some of the art work, which will depict a bicycle tyre, the Bedale Cross, while golf balls will be used to create other designs.
Later today, Mowbray School in Bedale will be putting together its own giant art work on the main playing field next to the school, while staff will be in the main town later in the day, helping spectators welcome the Tour de Yorkshire by signing phrases in Makaton sign language.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, executive member for education and skills, said: “Young people across the county have been wholeheartedly getting involved in community events for the Tour de Yorkshire. The creativity, hard work and enthusiasm of pupils and teaching staff is evident to see across the county as it celebrates the race and is an important part of the celebrations.”