The former haunt of poet Lord Alfred Tennyson – Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens near Spilsby in Lincolnshire – this summer hosts its first contemporary art exhibition, created by German artist Christiane Löhr.
Part of Trust New Art, the National Trust’s programme of contemporary arts inspired by place, Densen – Disperse seeks to connect the wider estate with the much-admired hall and gardens.
Throughout the spring, Christiane spent time at Gunby developing her pieces for the exhibition, walking across the wider estate and gardens to seek inspiration and collect materials, as well as creating pieces whilst on site.
Sara Blair-Manning, the National Trust’s General Manager for Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens, explained:
Being in direct contact with nature is how Christiane’s work evolves. She will gather materials like plant stalks, dandelion or ivy seeds and then use these to create the most delicate, tiny sculptures. Her pieces are often reminiscent of everyday objects or architecture.
The home of the Massingberd family until 1944, Gunby has a long history associated with creative greats; as well as Tennyson, Gunby was visited by the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood associate member Arthur Hughes, to name but a few.
Sara Blair-Manning added:
Gunby Hall offers our visitors a chance to discover its history and artistic connections which range from Lear to Vaughan-Williams. We very much hope that they will enjoy this inaugural contemporary arts exhibition which will be a reconnection for Gunby with its past artistic endeavours.
Describing her work, Christiane said:
Rather than nature per se, I am interested in form of the plants, not in their botanical features….I am a sculptor. My issues are sculpture and perception, form and space, the very concrete involvement with the given daily objects.
It is another way of displacing space, or rather ‘sculpting’. That comes about by working with ordinary materials – that could be steel but I chose the organic. I am focused on the placement in space, on proportion, on what is happening between the formed space and the untouched space.
I very much enjoyed my time at Gunby, amongst its peace and tranquillity. As well as the beautiful grounds, I was really taken aback by the breadth and depth of the team’s knowledge and their readiness to share this with me. This really helped my work.
The Trust has worked in partnership with Newcastle upon Tyne visual arts commissioning agency Locus+, who matched Christiane Löhr with the property. The exhibition is the first major exhibition in the UK of her intricate sculptural forms.
It is supported by Arts Council England as part of Trust New Art, a programme which aims to connect more people to the places the National Trust look after through contemporary art.
The exhibition, situated in the Orchard Gallery, is open every day 11am – 4pm and runs until 4 September 2016. Entry to the exhibition is free but normal admission charges apply (free to National Trust members).
A special walk across Gunby’s extensive grounds has been created as part of the exhibition. Following in the footsteps of Christiane Löhr, it discovers some of the areas that inspired her when creating the Densen – Disperse exhibition.
For more information about Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens and details about the exhibition, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gunby-estate-hall-and-gardens.