Wightwick was featured on a recent television progamme about the Pre-Raphelites, Andrew Lloyd Webber was brought close to tears by this wonderful house which displays many artworks and applied art by or inspired by the Pre-Raphelites. There are paintings and drawings by Rossetti, Millais, a beautiful Burne Jones painting (borrowed from another National Trust property Upton House), ceramics by William de Morgan and fabrics and wallpapers by William Morris. There's a room devoted to William Morris, and the shop has many William Morris inspired pieces. The reason I went to Wightwick this Sunday however, was to see an art exhibition someone mentioned to me, organised by Wolverhampton College as part of their Enter Arts course. Making Art History nicely presents contemporary art and craft pieces amongst the antique pieces of Wightwick Manor.
Not an exhibit by the way (at least I don't think it is), but it deserves to be. This is in Wightwick's fruit and vegetable garden. Lots of crawl spacdes for insects to make homes in.
The National Trust are undertaking a number of contemporary art exhibitions this year, as they have often done in recent years, for instance 'Gimme Shelter' an exhibition of sculpture in the grounds of Attingham on the theme of habitats and housing. My favourite piece was a huge African style mud hut that was constructed in the woods. The first year we visited (about 3 years ago, I think) it was freshly built and you were able to walk inside. Now, the construction is slowly decaying, crumbling, sinking in on itself. I take photographs of it every time I visit. The decay, for all that, is not sad really, but a new stage in the building's development.
And here's a photograph of me...
...actually not, it's a scarecrow standing guard in Wightwick's vegetable garden.
Another National Trust property that juxtaposeds modern art with its permanent exhibit is A La Ronde. Like Wightwick Manor, A La Ronde is a fascinating place crammed with wonderful object' d' art and curios, and both there and at Wightwick it's nice to see the contrast between craft and artwork which may be separted by centuries, but which is united by the passion and imagination and the urge to create something original and beautiful.
Searching for links about the Wightwick exhibition I found this blog by one of the contributing artists.
I've begun a small drawing, on Ingres paper again, as before I've drawn in horizonal lines and given a few white gouache splats to animate the space before I begin.