I visited this extraordinary place in June and met two of the other participating artists Thomas Appleton (stone) and Gary Allson (wood), the curator of the project Deirdre Figueiredo (Craftspace), Carol Carey of SAW and Sonja Powers (house and collections manager at Barrington). Great to meet everyone, discuss the project and start thinking about work in the context of the house and grounds.
Barrington Court is a 16th century Tudor mansion completed in 1559 already having had several owners. In 1625 it was purchased by William Strode, a clothier from nearby Shepton Mallet. The Strode family presided over its restoration and care until the mid 18th century. In 1674 a large stable block was built adjacent to the main house. By the middle of the 19th century the house had been demoted to the status of let farmhouse and had gone into serious decline. In 1907 the estate was purchased by the National Trust, the first country house property it acquired
After struggling to meet the huge renovation costs of such a property the National Trust leased the estate to Col. Arthur Lyle of the Tate and Lyle sugar company in 1920. Architect J E Forbes was employed to oversee renovation of the estate following an Arts and Crafts model of farm buildings, labourers cottages and formal and functional gardens. This was partially realised, the 17th Century stable block built by Strode was converted into a domestic property and the landscape architect Getrude Jekyll was consulted in the design of the formal gardens.
For more detailed information
The White Garden
I have decided to focus on the Getrude Jekyll influenced white garden. Much of my work looks at our desire to reconstruct the natural world in human terms so this was a good place to start. One aspect of art and craft design is introducing natural form into the domestic space. My initial idea was to play on this introducing some aspect of the white garden into the house
Interior of the House
Arthur Lyle had an extraordinary collection of wooden panelling installed in the house during the Forbes renovations in the 1920’s. The extensive panelling, which is installed in the majority of the rooms within the house, dates from 15th century onwards but the archives recording the panelling are missing hence much of its provenance is unknown. The detailing in these carvings is diverse from the intricate carvings of flora and fauna in the Christopher Wren panelling to the naive etchings in the Long Gallery. I am interested in the mythology of these carvings, depicting strange flora and fauna, sometimes hybrids of the two, which almost seems compounded by their unknown provenance.
Spaces and Springs : Possible Sites for Installation
The corridor between the dining room and buttery contains a small stone sink revealed behind a wood panelled door. This was fed from the Silver Spring which has been used since Roman Times. Its low position in the wall means it is a less obvious space, viewers would have to crouch and peer in to see the work.
The window ledge in the Dining Room is constructed of a ventilator grill from the wooden sugar transportation ships used by Tate & Lyle. There is a space below the grid allowing for work to be attached below emerging through the ventilator gaps.
This alcove on the opposite side of the dining room could provide an intimate space for the work.