Unravelling...

Press release

 

 

 

 

Unravelling Uppark

 

Uppark House and Garden

South Harting, Petersfield GU31 5QR

Sunday-Thursday

4 May – 2 November 2014

 

Unravelling the National Trust is a unique project offering artists and makers exhibition opportunities in National Trust properties.  Conceived by arts organisation Unravelled, artists are invited to evoke histories, stories and a sense of place in a designated National Trust property.The project launched in May 2012 at Nymans House and Gardens in Sussex, continued at the Vyne in Hampshire in 2013 and will culminate with the third and final exhibition at Uppark House and Gardens in West Sussex, launching in spring 2014.

The Unravelled artists are commissioned to create site-specific works referencing Uppark’s intriguing history, reflecting on the architecture and echoing elements from the significant collections of ceramics, textiles, plasterwork, silver and furniture housed in the property.

Encouraged to tell tales through their work about Uppark’s evolution and the historical characters connected to the property. On show, are a series of works designed to provoke and surprise visitors, whilst also providing unique insights into the history of the house

Uppark was built in 1690 by Ford Grey, the first Earl of Tankerville. An ardent Protestant, the earldom was bestowed upon him by William of Orange for plotting against the Catholic James II. Grey honoured his title by building Uppark in the Anglo-Dutch style.

In 1747, Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh bought the property after inheriting a fortune made from wine and coal trading. Sir Matthew was also one of the largest holders of stock of the East India Company. Together with his wife Sarah they redecorated the house extensively and established most of the existing collection. Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, their only son, inherited Uppark in 1774 and further contributed to his parents’ collection by acquiring French furniture and ceramics.

Sir Harry spent his youthful years in wild carousing. He was a close friend of the Prince Regent and his entourage included Emma Hart (the future Lady Hamilton, best remembered as Lord Nelson’s lover), who allegedly once danced naked on Uppark’s dining table for Harry and his guests. Middle-age saw Sir Harry become something of a recluse, but in 1825 the then seventy-year old scandalized his social circles once again by marrying Mary Ann Bullock, his twenty-year old dairymaid.

Unravelled artist Steven Follen finds his inspiration in Sir Mathew Fetherstonhaugh’s link to shipping and to the East India Company. His installation Trade comprises a flotilla of toy boats, made from folded tin metal sheets and filled with spices.

Video artist Jini Rawlings draws inspiration from Emma Hart’s story. Her installation in Uppark’s dining room looks beyond Emma’s original portrayal as mere entertainment for the male gaze. A series of mirrors reflects the many different attitudes to Emma and her unfolding story of fame and misfortune.

Sir Harry’s scandalousmarriage to his dairy-maid has inspired A Milkmaid’s Song, Gen Doy’s captivating sound piece in Uppark’s dairy and Matt Smith’s Garniture: The Bullock Buckets. Smith fuses the visual languages of Sèvres porcelain and Rococo furniture, with the shape of antique fire buckets, referencing the fact that the former milk maid Bullock was sent to Paris to study social graces before being brought back to take up residence in the house.

Inspired by the vivid stories of Uppark’s intriguing female residents, Agnes Jones, has created Io and Euthenia, a piece comprising two iron ‘line drawing’ sculptures for the house’s portico. The sculptures represent Mary Ann Bullock as Io, an ancient Greek nymph who was seduced by Zeus, and Emma Hart as Uppark’s goddess of prosperity, Euthenia.

Caitlin Heffernan’s site-specific installation Remnants explores the history of Uppark’s stables and the contrast between the privileged lives of people like Sir Harry and the Prince Regent and those of the grooms and stable boys who worked there. Using materials including hay, horse’s tack, jewels and fabrics recovered from Uppark's great fire in 1989, she creates an immersive world that is familiar yet uncanny.

Another interesting resident of the house was influential science fiction author HG Wells, who spent part of his boyhood there while his mother was housekeeper. Uppark’s tunnels are said to bear a strong resemblance to the underpasses in his novel, The Time Machine.

Inspired by Wells’ novels, Helen Felcey and Alice Kettle have created The House of Eloi, an installation that includes a collection of Time Machine-esque Eloi, a happy but naïve group of creatures preyed on by the sinister Morlocks.

Robert Cooper and Stella Harding have created a conceptual piece titled The Dish Of The Day: chicken in a basket. This large shallow serving dish in the form of a woven ceramic basket sits in Uppark's stone hall. On its surface, collaged imagery and interwoven text highlight the modern-day exploitation of young people, drawing parallels with the stories of Emma Hart and Mary-Ann Bullock.

In 1989 Uppark was devastated by a fire and re-opened six years later after a huge restoration project. Inspired by this bold restoration project, Zoë Hillyard has created her signature hand-stitched patchwork ceramics, which sit within the house’s extensive ceramic collection.

Other works by Unravelled artists, on show at Uppark include Andrew Burton’s Vessels and Simon Ryder’s Quartet. Andrew Burton examines the variety of drinking vessels within Uppark’s collection and uses them as a visual starting point to create sculptures which respond to Uppark's beer cellar. Simon Ryder’s engraved crystal glass piece explores the connection of sound to place. Paying tribute to Uppark’s birdsongs, it draws on the antithesis between freedom and captivity by trapping a visual representation of wild bird song within a block of crystal glass.

 

Editors Notes

 

The Artists:

Steven Follen is a designer and maker with specialist skills and knowledge of design, applied arts, metalwork and drawing. Having spent time in India and Bangladesh, Steven Follen, was intrigued to read that Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh was one of the largest holders of stock of the East India Company. Inspired by this connection he created a flotilla of toy boats filled with spices. Made from folded thin metal sheet the boats serve for a boys’ equivalent to Uppark’s formidable dolls house. The boat flotilla winds its way on the floor of the Little Parlour, while the scent of spices gently wafts within the room evoking memories of far off places.

Jini Rawlings is a video installation artist. Inspired by two threads of history found in Uppark's dining room, she creates Amy Emily Emma and Four Times of Day (Vernet). A video piece, which combines the effects of the sky and turbulent sea depicted in Four Times of Day, the series of paintings that hang on the walls by Claude-Joseph Vernet, with the story of Emily Hart (Lady Hamilton), who allegedly danced naked on the dining table to entertain Sir Harry and his guests in 1780.

Gen Doy has produced A Milkmaid’s Song, a sound piece for Uppark's dairy, the place where Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh first heard the voice of Marry Ann Bullock and as myth has it, fell for her before even setting eyes on her. The central theme of her work is the seductive power of the voice. The sound comes from a loudspeaker inside the dairy and mingles with real life sounds from outside, such as the wind and the sounds of the cockerels crowing. Doy creates a closely woven fabric of sounds, referencing others who have fallen in love with a voice and sings a dairymaid’s song of her own composition.

Caitlin Heffernan exploresthe contrast between a life of privilege and one of strain and manual labor. Her work interweaves opposing elements within the stable space. She uses horsehair to create a cobweb-like installation and straw bales to create a cocoon-like environment, in which she carefully embeds selected objects associated with stable work alongside objects that evoke the opulence of the house. Suspended within the space are sculptural forms made from reins, horsehair, satin and silk fabrics. The installation slowly unfolds to reveal remnants of a re-imagined past that transform the stables into an emotionally charged space.

Matt Smith draws inspiration from Uppark's original fire buckets. Part of the Fetherstonhaugh’s many chattels the fire buckets were amongst the French furniture and other artifacts that were sold in 1901 and were lost with the Titanic en route to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Fusing the visual languages of sevres porcelain and rococo furniture, with the shape of antique coffee cans, Smith uses the “common” fire buckets in the basement at Uppark as a starting point and embellishes them to create decorative additions to the home. His project reflects on the story of the dairymaid, sent off to Paris to study the art of social graces, after her marriage to Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh. Garniture: The Bullock Buckets sit proudly on pedestals at Uppark’s staircase hall to be gazed at by the master of the House, fulfilling a very similar purpose to the one that Mary Ann Bullock fulfilled upon her return from the French capital.

Helen Felcey, ceramicist and Alice Kettle, textile artist, have a history of working together. For Unravelled, they created The House of Eloi, a piece inspired by HG Wells’ books The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. Set against a backdrop of imagery exploring the themes of the three books, Kettle and Felcey, imagine a world populated by mutant creatures who start their own settlement within Uppark’s Dolls House room in the basement and gradually invade other parts of Uppark.

Robert Cooper and Stella Harding By merging their distinct crafts, ceramics and basketry, Cooper and Harding create The Dish Of The Day: chicken in a basket. A large shallow serving dish, placed in Uppark's stone hall, is crafted in the form of a woven ceramic basket, reminiscent of a Sceaux faience basket in Sir Harry’s collection. Looked at more closely, one finds the surface collaged with imagery and interwoven text that highlights the modern-day exploitation of young people in the international sex-tourism and servant trade. The piece is garnished with relief mouldings, photographic transfers and hand painted enameled decorations.

Zoë Hillyard uses hand-stitched patchwork to revive discarded and broken ceramics.  She uses printed textiles to cover the flawed original fragments of the pieces she re-works and then reassembles the entire object by stitching all of its parts together. Inspired by the huge restoration project undertaken at Uppark after the 1989 fire, Hillyard creates Salvage a piece comprising of her her signature patchwork ceramics, which sit within the house’s extensive ceramic collection. Her pieces are inspired by the stories and characters associated with the house. They feature both old and new imagery and are made using both vintage fabrics and digitally printed silk referencing site-specific patterns.

Agnes Jones, artist blacksmith, inspired by the vivid stories of Uppark’s intriguing female residents, Emma Hart and Mary Ann Bullock as well as by the many classical sculptures on show at Uppark, creates two sculptures for the house’s portico. Made from steel in the form of a line drawing, the sculptures represent Mary Ann Bullock as Io, the nymph who was seduced by Zeus and Emma Hart as Uppark’s goddess of prosperity, Euthenia.  

Growing up near Uppark in the South Downs, Simon Ryder is very familiar with the songs of indigenous birds. In his piece, Quartet,Ryder captures these ephemeral songs forever. Inscribing the rising and falling notes of the songs in three blocks of crystal glass, Ryder subverts the traditional craft of glass engraving, tracing the birdsong within the glass.

Andrew Burton is known for his large scale sculptures made from thousands of tiny ceramic bricks. Using clay and glass, Burton creates Vessels, a piece that responds to Uppark's beer cellar both in terms of its spatial qualities and use. He examines the variety of drinking vessels in Uppark’s collection and uses them as a visual starting point to create sculptures, broadly picking up on the idea of the beer barrels and further extending this theme. 

Unravelling the National Trust has been running for over three-years and is funded by Arts Council England, the National Trust, the Headley Trust, The Four Lanes Trust, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. Unravelled has organised the three exhibitions at different National Trust properties across the South East of England, as well as symposia, talks, skill sharing events and trips.  The first exhibition took place at Nymans House and Gardens in May 2012. The second exhibition took place at The Vyne in Hampshire in June 2013 and the final exhibition will take place at Uppark House and Garden in West Sussex in May 2014. www.unravelled.org.uk

Trust New Art

Trust New Art is the National Trust’s art and craft programme, taking place at selected historic houses, countryside and garden properties across England.  It connects more people to National Trust places through contemporary art and craft.  It has been supported by a three-year partnership with Arts Council England to build links between the National Trust and the contemporary arts and craft sector.

 

Trust New Art involves a wide programme of events, projects and products developed to make contemporary arts and crafts an integral part of the National Trust's daily offer to visitors, building new audiences and providing commission opportunities to both emerging and established artists.  For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trustnewart

 

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives.  We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.  Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us.  In short, it makes life better.  Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

 

Grants for the arts is Arts Council England’s open application funding programme.  It supports arts activities that engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.  Grants for the arts invests National Lottery money in the highest quality arts activity and supports innovative and exciting work.  Every month hundreds of great arts projects across England will be awarded Grants for the arts funding. http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/grants-arts/grants-arts-awards/