Grizedale Arts have leased Lawson Park from the Forestry Commission since 2000, when director Adam Sutherland took over the tenancy. At that time the farmhouse, though spartan, proved habitable after some basic renovations. Nevertheless, its lack of central heating, erratic water supply, and idiosyncratic charity-shop furnishings (which included the head of a massive stag shot at nearby Claife) always surprised and usually delighted visitors.
Adam Sutherland, his partner Karen Guthrie and the staff and board of Grizedale Arts hosted and facilitated many memorable projects and art events in the house and buildings throughout this time: These included Emily Wardill’s ‘Feast against nature’ (a marathon performative dinner of black dishes); Nathanial Mellors’ ‘Prince Lightning’ series; an al fresco dinner by Rob Kesseler (pictured); the shooting of Clio Barnard’s Channel 4 film ‘Flood’; ex-pop star Jesse Rae’s Brick FM radio station; a Gelitin party, the Toge (Japan) village visit as part of the project ‘Seven Samurai’; Olaf Breuning’s chainsaw-carved ‘It’s a Garden!” show for the Chisenhale Gallery and many early Juneau/projects works. Wonderful dinners were a particular highlight of any Grizedale visit, with guests as varied as film-maker Ken Russell, literary historians Pamela & Robert Woof, artist Mark Wallinger, writer / broadcaster Jon Ronson, poet Paul Farley, curator Toby Webster and many many more.
Power cuts, midge attacks, water shortages and inaccessibility through snowfall were all relatively common occurences at this time, though – surprisingly- broadband Internet was introduced on site as early as 2005.
During this period the planting of a garden surrounding the farmhouse began, reclaimed from rough fellside pasture with nothing more than a scattering of gorse, birch and hazel. Adam Sutherland and Karen Guthrie worked hard to establish the now-flourishing garden, propagating many plants from seed themselves.
In 2005 the Kitchen Garden was begun with a view to increasing sustainability on site by growing food for its inhabitants, and in 2007 Grizedale Arts kept the first pigs at Lawson Park for over 50 years.