Sitting With Jane was a unique public art trail to celebrate Jane Austen's connections with Basingstoke and her birthplace, Steventon and formed part of a global commemoration of her life in 2017, the 200th anniversary of her death.
Jane Austen is one of the most famous novelists in the world and anything with a link to her life attracts huge interest.
Jane Austen was born in Steventon, just a few miles from Basingstoke and she lived there for more than half her life. The places, people and landscapes of the area had an enormous influence on her novels and she drafted ‘Pride and Prejudice’ whilst living in Steventon. Basingstoke was where she went to shop – and to dance. This local heritage is not well-known, ‘Sitting With Jane’ is about to change this.
‘Sitting With Jane’ combines the celebration of local culture and history with a creative modern interpretation that will appeal to all. It attracted wide media attention both on and off line, making Basingstoke the unlikely unsung hero in her life story.
What is ‘Sitting With Jane’?
‘Sitting with Jane’ was a sculpture trail made up of 24 ‘BookBenches’ in and around Basingstoke, each uniquely designed and painted by a professional artist with their personal interpretation of a Jane Austen theme. The trail linked together locations – all with free public access. It was in place in the summer of 2017 and was be accompanied by a dedicated web site, a free to download app and a trail guide.
After, the benches were auctioned in aid of our charity partner, Ark Cancer Centre Charity to leave a valuable lasting legacy in the region.
What did Sitting With Jane do?
Our partners, Wild In Art, have experience from around the world on the impact such events have on a community, local tourism and profile. In Basingstoke the art trail brought visitors from far and wide in what the media dubbed ‘The Jane Effect’ and went viral on social media with 570,000 impressions of the #SittingWithJane in just one week. The project gave an estimated boost to the local economy of £1.1m and achieved Destination Basingstoke’s aim to raise the profile of Jane Austen’s connections with our town.