Category Archives: Arts Council Collection

‘Small World…’

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‘Brave New World…’

With most of the Arts Council Collection up and running, we had a subdued, more relaxed environment to work in. Not! The first week of the ACC installation went by in a blur. Having done a seven day stint and had a few days off, I was keen to get back to work. Something I had never experienced, before working at Dyrham towers… The blend of contemporary art within our collection works really well and ranges from the ‘subtle’ to the ‘in your face’. I by chance strolled past a visitor who was admiring the ‘pink circle’. He had specifically visited to see the ACC work, and thought it was a great venture, so that truly made my day. With the arrival of the few remaining works imminent, we’ll soon be able to have the ‘fanfare’ opening it deserves. An open evening/press launch, guided talks, banners and posters, kids activities, and promotions are all in the pipeline, so it should be a fascinating season. One fine day, when Lin the boss-lady was away, and I had helped the girls with the cleaning schedule, sorted out the volunteers for the day, and sat down with a cuppa, there was a buzz on the door bell. As I walked past the inter-com panel screen I saw it was garden nymph Alice who used to work at Dyrham and is currently working at Prior Park in Bath. ‘Oh, I thought, wonder why she’s here. As I opened the door to say hi, who should pop their head around the door too? My beloved ex-mentor Katy! I had heard she might be in town, but was still shocked and delighted at the same time. So much so, I momentarily forgot my usual impeccable social etiquette and couldn’t resist a hug. (This probably went on a little longer than she would have liked but I was caught up in the moment- sue me.) It was fab to see her again, and good to know Arlington Court’s Carriage museum is in good hands. It was also a good opportunity to hand out a couple more Easter eggs left over from the kid’s trails over the weekend, (I’m not sure if it’s possible to overdose on chocolate eggs but if it is, I was sure close.)

‘The Arts Council Cometh!’

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‘The show must go on…’

A week to remember has just gone by and has seen blood, (cut my thumb) sweat, (lots of running up/down stairs) tears, (got the giggles) gallons of coffee, (obviously) cake, (don’t judge me) and even pizza. (Who in their right mind would turn down a veggie/chilli number – Thanks Cath!) All in the name of Art. ‘Trust new Art’ is a new initiative at The National Trust to incorporate contemporary works of art from the Arts Council Collection, into our existing collections. Although recently launched, we at Dyrham have had just two and a half days to get the show up and running. We have had a cool twenty-something pieces to hang and display alongside our collection from a variety of artists. The ‘A World Away’ globalisation theme fits nicely in with one of the most important people ion Dyrham’s history, the first William Blathwayt. He was responsible for the major building works in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s creating most of the property. Mr B was a major player who had ‘fingers in many a pie’, from property to multiple jobs. His work dictated a need for a working knowledge of the world that was almost ahead of his time hence the link with the contemporary art theme.

Arriving un-fashionably early, we watched the truck wind it’s way down the drive as Sarah (the Blond bomb-shell of the Garden team) pointed out I looked expectant…  (well, I was breathing out at the time and had eaten a lot of biscuits) With a heave and indeed a ho too, we got all the crates of artwork off and pilled up in the house ready to be unpacked the next day. A slightly surreal version of Christmas… With the help of two of the Arts Council Collection’s ‘logistic experts’, the ACC curator Anne Jones, Dyrham Curator Rupert, House Manager Lin and Myself, we had a hectic two days hanging all the artwork, which was not as easy as it sounds. Not by a long shot…The house office did become a little cramped with boxes, packing material, tools, chain, paperwork etc. Some pieces were hung on existing picture rails, some freestanding and some screwed into the wall! It was uncharted waters for Dyrham staff, so the party line was ‘We’ll get it done…’ as well as ‘Keep Calm and Carry on…’ which is always a winner. Our collective positive mental attitude did prevail, as we had literally minutes to go before the house opened at the same time as paintings being fixed on the wall. An ‘eye of the storm’ to be sure… Although weirdly enjoyable too… A big thank you to the ACC crew for all their hard work. The show stopper pieces for me are ‘Candle Bathing’, my personal favourite, which I think I could look at all day, and obviously the pink circle, ‘Line Painting’. A visual firework-show to end the visitor route with…

‘A mixed bag.’

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‘Light, camera, action’

All our ‘Dosimeters’, (small light meter cards with a blue centre) have finally been collected in and shipped off to the lab. They are a beautifully simple tool to measure the amount of light an object receives over the course of a year. The blue patch of cloth fades at a specific rate that can be analysed to tell if there is likely to be any deterioration. Thankfully our efforts at light control are working as they didn’t show too much fading and we could even re-use a few with no fading at all.

We had a visit from the Arts Architects Panel and I was on hand in true ‘gig road crew’ style to open/close doors and adjust blinds for various rooms. Later that day saw culture go out the window in favour of a plan to hold an April 1st ‘Spot the Oddity’ trail. This was a carefully planned house tour/brainstorming session. Our Princess of Visitor Experience Katie Morgan required the keen brain and sharp wit of a tall dark stranger. Typically he was out fishing so I volunteered to help. (Not that tall but strange…) We toured the house to work out what we could put in each room, and the ideas came thick and fast. To discover the fruits of our collective gray matter you’ll just have to visit on the day…

This week saw the completion of the ‘groundwork’ for the Arts Council Collection exhibition. Our work on the pink circle has been completed and looks mighty fine. We did breathe a collective sigh of relief and it has already drawn quite a bit of interest from staff alone. Next week will see the completion of the piece and the arrival of all the other items. Exciting times…