Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

House of Beasts at Attingham Park, Atcham, Shrewsbury, UK

by Suzanne on August 1st, 2011

1 - Evacuate by Kate MccGwire, bird feathers coming out of pot - click to enlarge

When news reached me a month ago that Meadow Arts were curating a year-long site-specific group show of taxidermy, sculpture and installation art entitled House of Beasts at the breathtaking Attingham Park in Shrewsbury (Charles Darwin's birthplace - how perfect!), I knew that there was still hope that the Elder Gods can indeed hear our prayers and pleas for great art exhibitions in the UK and do receive our sacrifices.

2 - Foreground: Untitled (Sphere) by Alastair Mackie, mouse skulls, wood, glass, courtesy the artist and All Visual Arts / Background: Herd by Susie MacMurray, cut antlers, silk velvet, Meadow Arts Commission 2011 - click to enlarge

House of Beasts is way more than land-art meets Wunderkammer though - Meadow Arts have managed to create a surreal fictional space where taxidermy becomes alive and sculpture becomes organic.

3 - Refuge by Nina Saunders, taxidermy fox, upholstered armchair, courtesy David Roberts Collection - click to enlarge - click here for detail

Where Nina Saunders' little fox (picture 3) just stretched its paws and yawned, where Tessa Farmer's insect warriors battle fearlessly with their porcupine spine spears, where Daphne Wright's swan (picture 7) is drying its feathers after an invigorating swim in the River Tern, where Polly Morgan's magpie (picture 5) just picked up the phone, where Kate MccGwire's leech-like feather blob (picture 1) is spooking and creeping around the house like it's trapped in some Edward Gorey book or Ray Caesar artwork.

4 - Chandelier (Katy’s Convoy) by Nina Saunders, chandelier with taxidermy birds, courtesy the artist - click to enlarge

I've had a long love and passion for artists combining bone and filigree with taxidermy, so I immediately knew this would work perfectly at an old manor house like Attingham Park but when I saw the line-up of artists, I did need to reach for the smelling salts, it is that amazing.

5 - One for Sorrow by Polly Morgan, bakelite telephone and taxidermy magpie, courtesy the artist - click to enlarge

Featured artists include:

*INHALES* Ruth Claxton, Mat Collishaw, Tessa Farmer, Rachel Goodyear, Kathleen Herbert, Alastair Mackie, Susie MacMurray, Kate MccGwire, Polly Morgan, Nina Saunders, Anj Smith, Daphne Wright *EXHALES*.

6 - The Beast in Me by Mat Collishaw, digital photograph, courtesy Anne Faggionato - click to enlarge

Yeah, I know, right? A plethora of reasons to drag yourself to Shropshire before mid-July 2012. Details below.

Many thanks to Anne de Charmant, director of Meadow Arts for the in-situ image material.

7 - Swan by Daphne Wright, cast marble dust, Meadow Arts Commission 2007 - click to enlarge

On show: Jul 2, 2011 - Jul 15, 2012

Address: House of Beasts at Attingham Park, Atcham, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4TP, tel: 01743 708123 (INFOLINE), email: attingham@nationaltrust.org.uk | Exhibition map

Press release | Exhibition map

WurzelForum discussion

Daphne Wright at Frith Street Gallery, London

by Suzanne on February 13th, 2010

Primate by Daphne Wright, marble dust, onyx, resin, paint, and silk embroidery, 14.5 H x 76 L x 46.5 W cm, 2009 - click to enlarge

I usually refrain from attending exhibitions that are all about "letting the works breathe" and "showing the interaction between exhibit and architectural surrounding" because it normally just means that the curators who couldn't be bothered to fly more artworks in try to sell you a show as being all zen and stuff when there's really just a super pretentious nihil gaping in the middle of a giant concrete gallery cube.

In the case of Frith Street Gallery's Daphne Wright exhibition however, I must admit that I'm very glad I made an exception. Yes, there were only two works on show (apart from a series of obscure drawings and an awkward video installation in their super Doomesque downstairs room), but their presence was magnificent and yes, the unfinished architecture of the place is stunning and very inspiring indeed.

Stallion by Daphne Wright, marble dust and resin, 160 H x 380 L x 140 W cm, 2009, edition of 2

I must say though that these two installation views do Daphne's work zero justice. Her Stallion has the icy shine of marble dust and seems frozen and conserved yet so very potent and virile and her Primate's fur is hand-embroidered with the most surreal shimmery and exquisitely silky silver thread and you really just want to lie down on the gallery floor and become statuesque yourself - become part of a magical triangle between horse, monkey, man.

Daphne Wright's Traits of Sidney is on show until the end of the month. Please note that Frith Street Gallery isn't on Frith Street, but very close to Piccadilly Circus. Further details below.

On show: January 14 - February 27, 2010

Address: Frith Street Gallery, 17–18 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JJ, UK | Map

Gallery hours: Tue - Fri: 10 AM - 6 PM | Sat: 11 AM - 5 PM


by suzanne_tumblr on February 12th, 2010

Primate by Daphne Wright, marble dust, onyx, resin, paint, and silk embroidery, 14.5 H x 76 L x 46.5 W cm, 2009 - at Frith Street Gallery until Feb 27, 2010

by suzanne_tumblr on February 12th, 2010

Stallion by Daphne Wright, marble dust and resin, 160 H x 380 L x 140 W cm, 2009, edition of 2 - at Frith Street Gallery until Feb 27, 2010