Houghton Hall backdrop for American artist’s show

James Turrell at Houghton Hall pictured by Hugo Glendinning
James Turrell at Houghton Hall pictured by Hugo Glendinning

One of the world’s most acclaimed artists working today, American James Turrell, is using the Norfolk’s skyscape as a canvas for his dynamic modern lightworks exhibition to be staged at Houghton Hall.

An eclectic range of the world-renowned Texas-based artist’s work, titled LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton, will be on display in the hall, stables and grounds of Houghton Hall, from Sunday, June 7, until Saturday, October 24.

The exhibition features a collection of lightworks and will be open from Wednesdays to Sundays, and August Bank Holiday Monday. The centrepiece is a specially created illumination of the entire west façade of the hall. The spectacular light display, which will run on Friday and Saturday evenings, will be visible from dusk until an hour after dark and will provide a unique experience as an exciting climax for visitors to the exhibition.

Further exhibition highlights are two major Turrell works which are already in place at Houghton Hall - the Skyspace Seldom Seen is a wooden viewing chamber rising into the canopy of surrounding trees with a square aperture open to the sky, while St Elmo’s Breath, a space division construction, is housed in an 18th century Palladian water tower.

Other exhibition works include the artist’s iconic light projections created in the 1960s, holograms, a series of prints and a Tall Glass work, as well as a selection of photos illustrating Turrell’s Roden Crater in Arizona – a 30-year project in which he is transforming a natural cinder volcano on the edge of a desert into a large-scale artwork from which to view celestial phenomena.

Owner of Houghton Hall, The Marquess of Cholmondeley said mounting an exhibition of Mr Turrell’s work was “the fulfilment of a long-held dream”.

He said: “I am extremely grateful to him for his active participation, and especially for creating an exciting new light piece for the front of the house.”

He added that visitors did not need a deep knowledge of the arts to enjoy the lightworks as “you react with pure emotion. All ages, from children to adults, can enjoy them.”

Mr Turrell said he was delighted to be staging an exhibition in an English rural setting. He said: “It’s a treat. It’s great to celebrate this part of England too. The history of collecting art here at Houghton Hall is extraordinary – and this exhibition is a continuation of collecting that is rarely done.”

The new exhibition follows on from the huge success of 2013’s Houghton Revisited, an event which saw a stunning collection of paintings amassed by Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, transported from Russia’s St Petersburg Hermitage to be reunited with their original surroundings at the stately home he built in the 1720s.

Tickets for LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton are on sale now from www.turrelllightscape.com, or by calling 01603 598640.