Gran Tourismo

‘Gran Tourismo’, new work by Edward Chell, Little Chef, Ings

Taking the Little Chef restaurant as the modern equivalent of the 18th Century watering hole, Edward Chell explores car travel, landscape, and the evolution of tourism in this exhibition of new work at Little Chef, Ings.

In ‘Gran Tourismo’, oil paintings depicting motorway verges on the M6, hang alongside text pieces in the form of customised road signs, and ‘private’ number plates for boy racers Wordsworth and Ruskin.

Exhibited in a roadside restaurant on the A591 into Windermere, these works prompt questions about our experiences of landscape and the ways in which we pass through it.

Early tourist guides by writers and artists such as Rev. William Gilpin, William Wordsworth and John Ruskin led indirectly to the exploitation and sometimes despoliation of the landscape they sought to protect.

Yet, the vistas created by blasting roads through hillsides have their own sublime beauty. The motorway verge, offering a pesticide-free habitat for wild plants and animals, presents a new kind of wilderness.

Chell’s work is part of an extended project on motorscapes and also forms a response to ‘Savage Grandeur and Noblest Thoughts’ the current exhibition at The Wordsworth Museum, which charts the rise of tourism in The Lakes.

Edward Chell’s work features in Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, recently published by Jonathan Cape.

He talks about his work on Open Country, BBC Radio 4, first broadcast 26/03/2011 and available online at

Chell’s recent work focuses on borders and peripheral places. Recent commissions include Carboretum, Acer to Quercus at Stour Valley Arts in Kent and Ten Steps to Heaven at The Swedenborg Society, London.

‘Gran Tourismo’ runs from 20th April to 22nd May 2011 at Little Chef, Ings on the A591 into Windermere.

Installation Images
Joe Moran