Case Study 1: Discover Turner’s Yorkshire: public-oriented research and commercialization
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Leeds
Unit of AssessmentArt and Design: History, Practice and Theory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
Professor David Hill has published extensively on Turner's work, highlighting Yorkshire as a
landscape of international significance. His fieldwork has tracked the artist's travels through the
county, locating, examining and photographing his viewpoints as they survive today.
Since 2010 a tourist promotion entitled `Discover Turner's Yorkshire' has given this work much
wider public impact. Both published and digital materials have raised public awareness of the
significance of the county to the artist; this has increased tourism and brought further economic
and social benefits.
Professor David Hill is an expert on J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) having researched the life and
work of the artist for more than thirty-five years. Hill was one of the first of a generation of modern
scholars who recognised both the need and the scope for research into the topographical aspects
of Turner's work. He has published regularly in this area since 1980, achieving an extensive
scholarly and popular readership (1), (4).
Hill's work has been cited in most general Turner literature of the last thirty years and informed
independent exhibitions such as Turner tours of Durham and Richmondshire (Bowes Museum
His 2008 book Turner and Leeds (1) highlighted the significance of the paintings Turner completed
whilst in the region, and the changes in the social and geographic landscape sparked by the
industrial revolution. Reviews indicate the contribution this research has made to the study of
Turner: "David Hill has followed the artist and his work on his tours throughout the county, and the
north of England, more widely. In the process he has pioneered a peripatetic, topographical
approach to Turner and the art of his contemporaries." (2)
Between 2008 and 2010 while he was Harewood Professor of Fine Art at the University of Leeds,
Hill was commissioned by Tate Britain to contribute his extensive research into Turner's Yorkshire
topography as part of their ongoing project to recatalogue the Turner Bequest collection of Turner's
sketches and drawings. This £1m project was one of the largest research projects ever devoted to
British art. Hill was the only established Turner scholar outside the Tate to be invited to contribute
to this definitive catalogue of an internationally significant resource, and he produced over 300,000
words of description, identification and analysis of Turner's work in the Bequest (3).
Hill's 2008-10 research constituted a comprehensive and systematic review of several thousand
subjects, the majority having been established during the course of his earlier work, but also
including several hundred new identifications which were made specifically as a part of the
research at Tate Britain. Developments in technology allowed a comprehensively modernised
online revision that would capture all the topographic work done in the last thirty-five years by Hill
and other Turner scholars.
Hill's Turner and Leeds and his Tate research were the specific triggers for the tourism initiative
`Discover Turner's Yorkshire'. In 2009 he was invited by tourist organisation Welcome to Yorkshire
to present his work at the Great Yorkshire Show. Impressed by his presentation, they then
commissioned him to act as development consultant to the `Discover Turner's Yorkshire' project,
and to prepare a comprehensive collation of the research material to inform the project.
Hill integrated his research with the GPS technology of Google Earth to accurately identify, for the
first time in this format, the viewing points and locations depicted in Turner's drawings of the
Yorkshire landscape. This facility — and the detailed online briefing notes which he created for each
locality — enabled the commercial exploitation of this research and the economic and social
impacts described below.
References to the research
(1) Hill, David — Turner and Leeds; image of industry (Leeds Museums and Galleries, 2008). A
single author book. Can be supplied by UOA on request.
(2) Professor Stephen Daniels review of Turner and Leeds in Turner Society News, no.114,
Summer 2010, pp.12-14. Review can be supplied by UOA on request.
(3) Turner Bequest catalogue online at Tate Britain (Turner's Travels) (2012):
http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/jmw-turner-sketchbooks-drawings-watercolours. Professor Hill's
contributions are informed by his research projects: Turner's Tour 1809 (ref. 155); Turner's
Yorkshire Tour 1816 (refs. 144,145, 146, 147, 148, 149); Farnley Hall and Yorkshire related
subjects (refs. 94, 128, 129, 150, 151, 152, 153). (A CD with complete text can be supplied by the
UOA on request).
(4) Hill, David, Turner in the North, (Yale University Press, 1996).
Details of the impact
Hill completed his work for Welcome to Yorkshire over six months, ending in March 2010.
Development work continued for a further year, with Hill as consultant.
`Discover Turner's Yorkshire' began with a Turner Trail, launched in June 2010, identifying seventy
sites depicted by the artist. Each site is marked in some way — in most cases with a distinctive seat
and interpretation boards directly attributable to Hill's research — all of which were locally funded
and as a consequence each contributed to the local economy. This highlighted new tourist venues,
as well as directing fresh attention to established attractions. The Yorkshire Tourism Report states:
"in raising the profile of Turner, there has been considerable success in promoting some of
Yorkshire's hidden heritage gems." (c; p.ii)
The Turner Trail was further supported by a number of Welcome to Yorkshire initiatives funded by
the Heritage Lottery Fund (£50,000) and Yorkshire Forward VOTED Support Fund (£20,000).
- A `Discover Turner's Yorkshire' map (e), of which 44,000 copies have been distributed and
an additional 18,000 used by the Turner Trail sites and galleries.
- An accompanying booklet entitled Discover Turner's Yorkshire (d) with widespread national
and international distribution (c). Hill wrote the foreword and all the Turner Trail location
- An extensive (and permanent) Yorkshire Turner Trails website (a). This is built around an
interactive map derived from Hill's Google Earth material and offers a range of innovative,
technology-based methods of exploring the artist's Yorkshire journeys. One of the most
fully developed artist-themed tourist initiatives across both print and new media, it features:
- Descriptions of each site and Turner's association with it.
- Downloadable guides to local trails.
- Audio tours and podstrolls — each giving audio descriptions and routes.
- Geocaches — which enable GPS device-holders to seek out hidden items in
treasure-hunt trails. The hidden boxes are interactive projects, and contain a
logbook to recount the visit, and often contain small `trade items' left by previous
explorers. By May 2011 there were more than 200 logged visits to sites (c).
- Podcasts (e) of Hill's interviews with local celebrities and dignitaries including the
Earl of Harewood, the watercolour artist Ashley Jackson and Archbishop of York Dr
John Sentamu, which were widely reported in the national and regional press (c),
- Activity sheets for children.
- Links to local organisations offering themed tours and accommodation.
Launched in June 2010, the website has had over 100,000 page views and almost 10,000
downloads (h). With traffic driven to the site via blogs, commercial and advertising sites, there is
evidence of considerable reach, with much of the traffic indicating that Turner's connections to the
region are being re-embedded in the local consciousness (g) (h).
Welcome to Yorkshire estimates that as many as 1.25 million visitors had seen the interpretation
boards by November 2011 (c; p.i). Yorkshire's tourism economy has seen a 6% year-on-year
increase in visitor numbers (b; p.62); while visitors to Turner Trails locations spent an average
£119 per head during their trip in 2010-11, compared to £106 in the previous year (b; p.62). Over
half the tourism businesses surveyed thought that the Turner project had a positive impact on their
business; a third noticed an increase in tourist numbers in the region (c). The manager of the
heritage site at Plumpton Rocks commented that the Turner Trails had "increased awareness of
the site dramatically" (c).
The media and PR publicity (f; g) generated by the Turner Trails has been extensive, with reports
in both national and regional newspapers, as well as radio and TV coverage, equating to almost
£600,000 in total Advertising Value Equivalency up to November 2011 (c; p.i).
Hill also disseminated his research through a series of Turner Masterclasses which educated
heritage tourism professionals and owners of tourism-related businesses on the Turner
connections to their location (h). Feedback from the fifty-three attendees indicated that participants
would build on the increasing interest in cultural tourism in the region through the promotion of
Turner Trails to `develop/enhance their own businesses' (c; p.13).
Highlighting the significance of Turner in the region has also led to a number of specific
commercial initiatives, including new `Turner Tours' organised by regional tourism companies
including Wold Tours, Wayfarers and the Greatdays Travel Group (c; p.16), (g; no.30), (i). These
have allowed Hill's research to make a significant contribution to the local and regional economy
This success has led Welcome to Yorkshire to consider developing further tours based on artists
Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney and Henry Moore (g; no.28), extending the economic impact of
Sources to corroborate the impact
(b) Yorkshire Regional Visitor Survey (RVS); appendices 4, 8 & 9, p.62. (A copy of the text can be
supplied by the UOA on request).
(c) Turner Trail in Yorkshire, Evaluation Report: Welcome to Yorkshire, Yorkshire Tourist Board
report (Project YH-09-07638), p.(i);(ii);13;16;28. (A copy of the text can be supplied by the UOA on
(d) Discover Turner's Yorkshire'; Booklet, Tourist Maps, Podcasts, Podstrolls, Audio Tours.
(Copies of this material can be supplied by the UOA on request).
(e) Individual commentary from Chief Executive, Welcome to Yorkshire, Yorkshire Tourist Board;
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and Humber. (Details on the REF submission
(f) Media and newspaper reports: Daily Telegraph (10/7/10); Independent on Sunday (22/8/10);
The Guardian website (28/6/10); Yorkshire Evening Post (24/12/11); Yorkshire Evening Post
(2/4/11); BBC Radio 4, `You and Yours'; BBC Look North; BBC1 `Country Tracks'. (Copies of these
reports and reviews can be made available by the UOA on request).
(g) World-wide-web. Data: 30 web listings in total; Professional Reviews (15); YouTube (1);
Wikipedia (1); Museum archives (1); Commercial Advertising (14). (Summaries and web-links can
be made available by the UOA on request).
(h) Personal testimony from Special Project executive, Welcome to Yorkshire; personal testimony
from Marketing Project Manager, Welcome to Yorkshire. (Details on the REF submission system)
(i) Personal testimony from Wayfarers Tour Leader. (Details on the REF submission system).