It was a cold and wet day in Norfolk yesterday when I visited Houghton Hall, where Richard Long has a new exhibition in the house and in the grounds.
I talked to the artist about his inspirations and the ancient landscape references in his work, which you will be able to read about in a future edition of British Archaeology (not all is what you might expect!). I loved the show and the setting, and will return in the summer with my family.
There’s a lot to be said for displaying contemporary art in country houses. It’s more in keeping with many of their builders’ pleasures and aspirations than the fake clutter scattered around National Trust houses, and they make terrific locations: expansive quiet grandeur encourages slow contemplation and lengthy engagement. Long’s Houghton Hall display would be impossible in an urban context (as would Ai Wei Wei’s at Blenheim). If you think it sounds or looks interesting, this is really not one to miss.
There are indoor installations, two small indoor galleries, and works outdoors, all but one of them new. Other artists are presented by permanent works in the grounds as well. And if you like electronic music, you can enjoy it all during a three-day festival in August.
There’s a copy of that little foldout (standing stones in Penwith) in Sam Smiles’ exhibition at the Salisbury Museum, also well worth seeing (“British Art: Ancient Landscapes”, until September 3, and see his article in the current British Archaeology).
Below is a sign to a work by Stephen Cox (these notices are wonderful in themselves):
And there is a lovely shed by Rachel Whiteread: