ARTISTS from rural Mexico are heading to the Yorkshire Dales for a collaborative project with local artist Rachel Thornton which will include creating a sculpture for a school garden.

Bentham-based Rachel, who specialises in experimental and natural wooden artworks, is hosting sculptor Kees Ouwens and ceramicist Carmen Del Carmen for two weeks this month thanks to funding from Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD). The programme aims to use culture, heritage and the arts to retain and grow the population of under 35s in the area.

During their stay, which is the first leg of an exchange project, the artists will inspire a new generation of creatives with a workshop at Bentham Primary School. They will work with pupils to produce a stone sculpture for the school’s garden as well as teaching printmaking and ceramics.

Rachel, 29, who uses print, painting and wood carving in her work is a ‘creative champion’ for GPLD, inspiring other younger people to embark on an arts-based career in the area.

She said: “Kees, Carmen and I will work on various community projects including the Three Peaks Open Studio event and Bentham Primary School.

“We are excited to share our skills and experiences of living and building artistic careers in a rural context overseas.”

Kees and Carmen work from a studio in Morelia, Mexico, and Rachel will make the return leg of the exchange in January next year to be inspired and find out more about life as an artist in rural central America.

Said Rachel: “Through this project all three of us hope to encourage others to pursue a creative career while living in a rural area and contribute in their own unique ways to make the Lakes and Dales a more exciting and diverse place to live.”

The exchange lasts from October 8 to 22 with open studios taking place over the weekends October 12/13 and 19/20. Rachel’s base is Studio 42, Unit 2a, Bentham Business Park, Bentham.