Saturday, 17 June 2017

Richard Long sculpture trail at Houghton Hall, Norfolk

A Line In Norfolk by Richard Long 
Driving to Sheringham from our Wood Norton campsite we were lucky to spot an advertising hoarding for a summer-long Richard Long sculpture exhibition at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. Built for the first British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall is now a fabulous stately home with extensive gardens and grounds open to the public. Tickets can be bought online and, at the time of writing are £10 to view the gardens only and £18 for the house and gardens. We got lucky (again!) with Dave spotting a 10% off discount code for online sales: AAAA. I don't know for how long this code is valid.

"Richard Long is one of the most influential figures of conceptual and land art, part of a generation of distinguished British artists who extended the possibilities of sculpture beyond traditional materials and method. Long’s work is rooted in his deep affinity and engagement with nature, developed during solitary walks. Long’s new pieces in the grounds of Houghton Hall use a variety of materials, including local carr stone, flint from East Anglia, trees from the Estate and Cornish slate, and accompany the permanent Long sculpture, Full Moon Circle, which was commissioned for Houghton in 2003."

White Deer Circle by Richard Long 
The Richard Long exhibition is entitled Earth Sky. It will continue until the end of October 2017 and incorporates six large outdoor works dotted around Houghton Hall grounds, a gallery showing a few photographic records of other works, and one indoor work which we didn't get to see as we hadn't splashed out on a house ticket! I loved the contrast of works such as A Line In Norfolk which tears straight down the centre of a pristine green lawn right in front of the house!

Waterflame by Jeppe Hein 
As well as Earth Sky, Houghton Hall also boasts a permanent sculpture trail of nine works placed in various places around the grounds. We were given a map on arrival and searching out the sculptures gave us a good tour of the beautiful formal gardens. It took a good two hours to see everything and that was without going into the house. Houghton Hall would easily make a four to five hour day out with a picnic or cafe lunch!

My favourite non-Long was the surprisingly accurately titled Waterflame by Jeppe Hein, created in 2008. It consists of a simple water fountain, but with an additional jet of what we assumed was paraffin or something similar so the top of the fountain was water and fire. This work was hypnotic to watch as the fountain died away and regrew repeatedly.

Houghton Hut by Rachel Whiteread 
Two other sculptures that caught my imagination were Houghton Hut by Rachel Whiteread and Interior Space by Stephen Cox. Houghton Hut actually depicts the inside of a small building, Whiteread having made a cast of its interior walls and door. This is mind-boggling in itself, especially so when what appears to be a solid sculpture is positioned at the end of a narrow woodland track along which it cannot possibly have fitted!

The reverse is true of Interior Space. This piece is a marble box whose only entrance is the slender cutaway shown in the photograph. It was just wide enough to put my head through and peer inside, but the temptation to try and wriggle in was very strong. I wondered if anyone has got themselves stuck?

Interior Space by Stephen Cox 
Skyspace Seldom Seen by James Turrell is an amazing idea and one for which I don't want to spoil the surprise for people who have not yet seen it. The work is presented in a large wooden box structure and I will say that I loved the topiary hedges alongside its approach because they reminded me of the moss-covered lava fields we saw in Iceland.

The Silver Sea by Blott Kerr-Wilson 
If you go to Houghton Hall, don't miss the Norfolk By Design pop-up shop that has taken over the old stables building until the end of September. This initiative showcases smaller items by forty-five varied Norfolk artists and artisans including gorgeous lamps, naive pottery, lifesize crocheted deer (yes, really!), shell covered boxes and vanity items, and artworks. My absolute favourite was this picture made from mussel shells, The Silver Sea by Blott Kerr-Wilson.

Houghton Cross by Richard Long 

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