New exhibition turns below-stairs kitchen into art space
You have to wonder what the likes of Mrs Patmore – the cook in TV's Downton Abbey – would have thought... The vast kitchen in a Somerset mansion has been transformed into a massive artwork and is now full, not of the smells of cooking, but of whips of willow.
To use the artist's own description of the installation at Barrington Court, "small knots and curls of willow accumulate and accumulate until the space is entirely full, filled with a 'fog' of layers that can be walked within and viewed in detail".
So says artist Laura Ellen Bacon – one of five "internationally renowned makers" whose work now dominates the National Trust-owned house in a show that lasts until October. Using locally sourced willow, paper, wood, leather and stone, the works which fill parts of Barrington Court are said to "acknowledge the contribution of local raw material suppliers and local manufacturers to the local economy and ecology of the county".
The exhibition is called Make the Most and is a Trust New Art initiative set up by Somerset Art Works in partnership with the National Trust and curated by Craftspace.
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The other artists and makers who are transforming the Tudor manor house are Maeve Clancy, who is working in paper supplied by Somerset's Two Rivers Paper Mill; stone calligrapher Thomas Appleton, who has teamed up with Harvey Stone Quarry and Stonemasons, which operates just a few miles south of Barrington at Ham Hill; woodworker Gary Allson, who has used wood supplied by Yandles of Martock; and leather artist Laura Youngson Coll, who is using leather supplied by glove manufacturers Burfield and Co, also of Martock.
For the Mrs Patmores out there who might be wondering how an historic cooking space might be transformed into an artwork, Laura Ellen Bacon explains: "Entering the old kitchen for the first time, I immediately felt that I wanted to create a work that hung within the atmosphere, putting back the layers of time and the evidence of the human hand that worked so diligently within them."