We got to Tatton Park in Cheshire today to see the Biennial. This is an exhibition of sculpture, most of which is outside in the gardens. The theme this year was “Flights of Fancy”. I’m always interested in how different artists interpret a brief so differently.
One of the most popular exhibits – especially with children! – is Hilary Jack‘s “Empty Nest”, a “human-scale rook’s nest”. According to the information board “Ancient folklore tells us that crows desert their colonies when a childless heir to a fortune dies and Empty Nest takes its inspiration from the last Lord Egerton, who died without children and left the Tatton estate to the National Trust.”
“The Cartland Institute for Romance Research” by Ultimate Holding Company explored the relationships between Dame Barbara Cartland, the writer of romantic fiction, wartime aviation, Tatton Park and 1990s British politics.
Brass Art is a collaborative practice of three artists: Chara Lewis, Kristin Mojsiewwicz and Anneke Pettican. Their work “Trine Messenger” was a seven-metre long balloon, which was made using a mean average of the artists’ faces from biomedical facial scans.
The work was beautifully reflected in the lily pond. Also using the reflections of the pond was “Ponte de Singe” by Olivier Grossetete which was a wooden bridge held up by three helium balloons. According to the catalogue it was “offered as a meditation for those who wish to contemplate an impossible journey”.
One of the stranger works was Simon Faithfull’s “ESY1899: Re-enactment for a Future Scenario”. According to the catalogue: “Housed in a shipping container, a film depicts the efforts of a silver-suited commuter to board and fly in a monstrous rendition of a jet. The steel container is made of the same materials as the unreal vehicle: misshapen, blackened by fire and missing a wing, the craft will not fly, but the traveller continues his ritual of boarding and waiting for take-off amid the flames.”
The final work I want to mention (there were four others in the garden, two in the parkland and four inside the Mansion) is Charbel Ackermann‘s “Dead Cat” which reflected Lord Egerton’s radio experiments. It was shaped like as enormous boom microphone from which various strange sounds came such as the drone of Second World War bombers.
The reason I mention this work is because as we walked down the gardens I heard a helicopter fly over. It was quite low but the cloud was even lower so although I could hear it I couldn’t see it. The parallel with Dead Cat was striking.
Finally, two points. Firstly, if you can get to see the Biennial, do so. Well worth seeing in my opinion. Secondly, read the children’s part of the information board. They often give interesting information not mentioned either on the adult section nor in the catalogue. For example I learned the fact that the loudspeakers inside Dead Cat are powered by solar panels in the top of the work from the children’s information.