I have started to gather the work I have been making in response to the things I have been seeing during my NT house visits and thinking more seriously about new work. Just small ideas being worked out on an even smaller scale.
There is a yellow room at Coughton Court which houses the most wonderful collection of paintings (family portraits) and the collection is one of my favourite things so far. The owners call them 'The Uglies'. They are somewhat overly truthful perhaps but there is a huge amount of beauty in this realness.
Chandalliers, lampshades, miniatures, bathrooms, checked floors, busts, portraits, fakeness, volunteers, lost loves, death and scandal: the ongoing list of the things I like.
The car ran on along the uplands, seeing the rolling county spread out. The county! It had once been a proud and lordly county. In front, looming again and hanging on the brow of the sky-line, was the huge and splendid bulk of Chadwick Hall, more window than wall, one of the most famous Elizabethan houses. Noble it stood alone above a great park, but out of date, passed over. It was still kept up, but as a show place. `Look how our ancestors lorded it!'. Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence
Welcome to Hardwick Hall (D.H. Lawrence's Chadwick).
Fabrics, tapestries, portraits and gloom are all overwhelming at different points within this house. At times it feels like a home, something about the wear on the stone steps. There is a long promenade room, where residents would take their exercise, the floor has bumps in intervals like waves. Its easy to feel sea sick, but the room is full of paintings, portraits, porcelain and huge wall tapestries. Queen Elizabeth I occupies one end above a fire place.
I was pleased to see a bathroom full of features from different centuries. I like it when the houses show their growth rather than taken back to a particular time. The bathrooms are usually a good example (and consequently locked away) a lot can be said for moving with the times where good plumbing is concerned.(I feel like I have said this before about a couple of NT's I have visited)
The old hall was by far the most interesting thing to climb about and into. Left to fall to ruin when the new hall was built by ambitious Bess of Hardwick, it looks like there has been some preservation of freezes about the fire places and walls, with no floors to speak of its left up to he imagination to construct the grand rooms where as little is left to the imagination in the new hall.
Welcome to the Wimpole Estate, my second attempt at visiting (never assume the opening times, always check) and thank goodness, because its a long journey, it was well worth a second go. In the grounds I found a set of bowls on a very bumpy bowling green, I had a go. Those balls are heavier than one might think.
This was a visit where the brilliant volunteers were really chatty, making jokes and pointing out lots of interesting facts about the house. Bits of their chatter have ended up in some of the films I have made. This is the noisiest house I have visited so far, partly because it was pretty busy and also there were sound pieces about the place, a disembodied voice on a huge stair case is movement activated.
There is a portrait of Queen Victoria in the dining room, because she stayed here, but this room has been renovated back to a dining room. Ripped out and turned into a kitchen by the final live-in owner this room is top to bottom fake and so how perfect that on the table there is fake food including two wonderful pineapples. This prompted more discussion about how changes made to the house are in themselves historical documents so should they always be taken back to a chosen point in time. I suppose its about what is deemed as more interesting or of historical importance.
Inevitably I have started to think about the work I will make in response to the visits I have made so far, though I'm a little way off from the end of my one year NT membership (which was a birthday present and maybe I will renew it) I like the feel of having a time limit but at the same time I don't want to make any decisions about the work just yet. If its going to be film based then I will have to revisit one or two houses and plan ahead a bit, if its about painting I can let things simmer away a bit, in my mind.