National Trust at Stourhead
(7/1/06 10:43 am)
Beauty and the Beast: New Sculpture Exhibition|
Beauty and the Beast - an aesthetic debate.
A major new sculpture exhibition in the landscape garden at Stourhead brings challenging contemporary art into stark contrast with its classical setting.
The National Trust at Stourhead is presenting its first major exhibition of contemporary sculpture in the 18th-century landscape garden from 4 September until 29 October, 2006. The show includes five unique commissions, major works on loan from artists such as Elizabeth Frink and an exciting new work by Gavin Turk, created as a direct response to the theme.
The exhibition, Beauty and the Beast, explores the aesthetic debate between classical and contemporary art. The landscape at Stourhead, with its temples and grotto set around a central lake was designed to make deliberate classical references. Often described as three-dimensional classical landscape painting, the garden provides a perfect backdrop for the show.
The contemporary art has been commissioned and selected with consideration for the art, history, nature and structure of Stourhead. The five unique commissions will be direct responses to the classical landscape and will include works and installations from engaging British artists such as Abigail Fallis and Kieran Brown. The development of this show in a world-famous landscape garden has created debate between the exhibition’s curator and the National Trust where complex decisions have been made about the relevance and positioning of each work.
Peter Dickinson, the exhibition's curator, devised the concept and says the project is intended to be bold and challenging. "For some exponents of the classical, contemporary work is the beast, and for some contemporary fans, the classical is the beast. I am always bemused by artists that reject classicism as dead, no longer relevant and elitist. I am similarly stunned by those who reject contemporary art as decadent, skill-less and facile. These polarised points of view are likely to be challenged by this exhibition. Contemporary art in the classical environment, and the relationship of the differing aesthetics is the focus of the exhibition, with the work and its positioning, related to and inspired by Stourhead’s gardens, buildings and existing sculptures. Stourhead is hailed globally for its classical construction. This exhibition is an opportunity to look again with reawakened eyes and wonder at this unique, incredible landscape art.
“What is beauty? Why reject the ugly? Is beauty good? Is ugly corrupt? The public will be invited to make up their own minds and contribute to the debate."
The project also involves an artist in residence in association with the British School at Rome which runs from 21 August to 1 October with opportunities for the public to see work in progress. Additional links with the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath and a series of educational and public events are planned to engage a wide audience.
Beauty and the Beast at Stourhead, Monday 4 September until Sunday 29 October, is a collaboration with the Hotbath Gallery, a subsidiary of the City of Bath College with support from the Arts Council.