From 7th June to 24th October 2015, the historic Houghton Hall, Norfolk, UK has been transformed into an illuminating art space by one of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists – James Turrell. The well-respected American artist has a long history with Houghton Hall, where two of his pieces were first installed nearly 15 years ago. The ‘Skyspace’ Seldom Seen, 2004 was the first installation in the stately home’s grounds with a wooden viewing chamber rising out of the canopy of surrounding trees and lit within by an open square aperture. ‘Space Division’ St Elmo’s Breath, 1992 swiftly followed housed in an 18th century water tower in Houghton Hall park. Lord Cholmondeley, the owner of the hall has long been an admirer of James Turrell’s work and is now witness to the fulfilment of his long-standing dream to stage an exhibition at Houghton dedicated entirely to the artist’s work.
Along with the two original works already in residence at the palatial country house, the exhibition brings together more pieces from the artist’s collection, including light projects from the 1960s, holograms and the celebrated ‘Tall Glass’ Series. The shining centrepiece of the showcase however is the entirely unique Façade Illumination, 2015, created only for the exhibition. The spectacular display illuminating the west façade of Houghton Hall consists of a slowly evolving light show which can only be seen on Friday and Saturday evenings and lasts 45 minutes, taking guests on a dazzling discovery of light and space.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists working today, James Turrell has been responsible for many of the most celebrated art pieces in modern times. His Roden Crater Project, a series of chambers built into the summit of an extinct volcano designed to view celestial phenomena is hailed at one of the most ambitious artist endeavors this century and has been in construction since 1979. With numerous museum shows behind him including installations at the Guggenheim New York (2013), LACMA in LA (2013/14 and MFAH in Houston (2013), he has also been the recipient of numerous accolades such as the National Medal of Arts in 2013 and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1984.The first showcase of this scale in the UK for many years, LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton has become one of the most celebrated events in the 2015 arts calendar, joining the artist’s most exceptional exhibitions of the past.
One of the UK’s finest examples of Palladian houses, Houghton Hall was built by Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole in the 1720s. Designed by architects Colen Campbell and James Gibbs, Sir Robert turned to William Kent to design the stately home’s interior. Passed to the Cholmondeley’s in 1797, the family still resides at the estate and the house is open to the public three days a week in the summer months. In recent years Lord Cholmondeley has restored many of Houghton Hall’s rooms to the splendor of the original interior creating an even greater contrast between the home’s historic design and the artist’s contemporary exploration of space and light.
The LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton exhibition is open until Saturday 24th October 2015 and tickets can be purchased to experience the grounds, the exhibition, the hall and the Illumination individually or together via the Houghton Hall website.