Houghton Hall, the magnificent mid-Norfolk mansion built to showcase some of the world’s greatest paintings and now surrounded with the work of renowned contemporary sculptors, hosts another landmark exhibition this summer
BLACKENED TREE stumps foraged from estate woodland and the gingerbread carrstone and glint-grey flints of West Norfolk are being shaped into works of art by internationally celebrated landscape sculptor Richard Long.
In the gardens and parkland surrounding Houghton Hall, west of Fakenham, lines of stone stretch across the landscape, sculpture emerges from fallen trees and mud is patterned behind pillars outside the Palladian mansion.
The major new exhibition by the Turner Prize-winning artist is the latest in a series of high profile arts events at Houghton Hall.
Richard Long began creating art from, and in, the landscape as a student in the 1960s, and has been working with stone, wood and mud ever since, with solo shows around the world.
He started transforming journeys into
works of art with A Line Made By Walking - a photograph of a strip of grass through a field, flattened by the tread of his feet. He went on to make art from stones beside roads and in river beds, arranged moorland boulders into circles and traced lines along seaside sand. One work was a line of 33 stones, a single stone placed each day, along a walk from the southernmost to the northernmost point of mainland Britain.
Others are made with the viscous tidal river mud he has loved from childhood. His materials are often sourced from close to his exhibition sites and the specially commissioned new works at Houghton will become Richard’s largest show since a retrospective at the Tate in 2009, and the first to present a series of his outdoor works in the landscape for which they were made.
As well as the three new sculptures in the gardens and parkland there will be large works, created from mud, in Houghton’s outdoor colonnades and smaller works and material about Richard’s career on show in gallery spaces, plus a sculpture in Cornish slate and Norfolk flint in the mansion’s magnificent Stone Hall.
The Marquess of Cholmondeley, of Houghton Hall, commissioned Richard’s circular slate sculpture Full Moon Circle in 2003. It became part of an impressive collection of contemporary art in the grounds of the mansion, including James Turrell’s
Skyspace, Jeppe Hein’s remarkable fire and
fountain Waterflame and Rachel Whiteread’s Houghton Hut.
Lord Cholmondeley said: “The purity and simplicity of his vision seem the perfect counterpoint to this classical 18th century landscape – his timeless forms harking back to the earlier civilizations that once inhabited this part of Norfolk.
“I am delighted that such an important exhibition of Richard Long’s work will be presented at Houghton including many new works. My hope is that in time Houghton will become a ‘must-see’ destination for those interested in contemporary art and sculpture.”
This latest exhibition follows the hugely successful Houghton Revisited in 2013, when paintings once bought for Houghton Hall by Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole were returned from the St Petersburg Hermitage museum to their original surroundings. Two years later LightScape, an exhibition of dynamic lightworks by contemporary American artist James Turrell, lit up the hall and grounds.