There are ten niches carved into the walls of Croome’s Long Gallery. In the past these niches held life-sized neoclassical sculptures of gods and goddesses including Apollo, Flora, Isis, Venus and Mercury made in plaster stucco. These sculptures have since been sold, lost or destroyed and the niches have been empty for more than sixty years.
Featuring artists Meghan Allbright, Chris Clinton, Sorsha Galvin, Katie Hayward, Sevven Kucuk, Jaimini Patel, Sikander Pervez, Camilla Searle, Grace A Williams and curated by Anneka French, the exhibition runs 7 August 2015 – 6 August 2017.
Nine contemporary artists based in the West Midlands, London and south of England have been invited to make new sculptural works for this room taking these original sculptures as starting points. Their commissioned pieces will be site-specific, responding to the special character, histories and details of Croome, now managed by the National Trust. The Capability Brown designed parkland and the interiors of Croome Court, particularly the Robert Adam designed Long Gallery, are of significant influence. A tenth artist will be invited in Autumn 2015 to work collaboratively with Croome’s team of volunteers to develop the final work for this new exhibition.
Sevven Kucuk and Grace A Williams make direct links to Croome’s past by presenting sculptural works relating to the goddesses Isis and Flora, two of the subjects of the ten original Long Gallery sculptures. Jaimini Patel’s new piece takes inspiration from the archive of Croome’s interior design history, and the ways that Croome’s buildings and parkland might be viewed by visitors inform Sikander Pervez’s response to the project. While Sorsha Galvin and Katie Hayward’s works relate explicitly to the specificities of the human body, sculptures by Meghan Allbright, Chris Clinton and Camilla Searle explore ideas of balance, fragility and tension within traditional sculptural materials and natural materials.
The exhibition title is taken from the Italian term contrapposto, used to describe the formal standing pose of figurative sculptures such as those once housed in the Long Gallery, with limbs twisted off axis from the hips. The title binds the commissioned new works to this history, while highlighting the body/figure and tension/balance that many of the nine artists are concerned with.
With a wry sense of humour, dramatic impact or a subtlety of gesture, the newly presented works shed light on how a contemporary sculpture might engage site-specifically with the idiosyncratic and highly layered historical context unique to Croome.
The exhibition is presented within a new arts programme at Croome as part of Croome Redefined, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Between 2014 and 2017 the project seeks to work with emerging and established artists, designers and craftspeople to develop creative responses, activities and presentations, providing new experiences for visitors to Croome.
Chris Clinton, ‘Ghosts’, 2015. Image copyright Chris Clinton