Dutch Design (56): Head over to Sudeley Castle

Head over to Sudeley Castle? Why? What with this awful skull?

I’ll tell you:

  1. Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds (UK) is worth a trip to the UK in it self. Especially when it is late spring / early summer when it’s beautiful garden is at its peak. I know, because I visited it once in the 90ies myself and have fond memories of that visit. Moreover, if you are a garden enthusiast, you should combine a visit to Sudeley Castle with a visit to Kiftsgate Court Garden and to Hidcote Manor.
  2. The castle is a beauty. Part of it still inhabited as a residence. Part of it artful ruins that act as beautiful backdrop for some exceptional climbing roses. Sorry, I don’t confess it here often, but I’m a real rose lover!
  3. If you are interested in British history, take a tour inside the castle and you will learn a thing or two.
  4. And now Sotheby’s has deemed Sudeley Castle worthwhile as a backdrop for a sales exhibition of 25 pieces of contemporary artists that runs until August 1, 2010 (and thus is combined with the garden’s high season).

Situated in the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire, the partially ruined Sudeley Castle thrived during Tudor times as a royal household for Queen Katherine Parr but suffered damage during the Civil War. Since its restoration in the 1830s, it played host to many of the greatest politicians of the Victorian age. Sudeley is today the home of Lady Ashcombe and the Dent-Brocklehurst family, who are dedicated to the regeneration of the castle and its gardens, with a particular emphasis on environmental sustainability. Since 2005, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst has staged a series of contemporary art exhibitions at Sudeley including Vertigo and Reconstruction and the success of these shows has resulted in the forthcoming collaboration with Sotheby’s.

One of the eye catchers is the Huge Sudeley Bench by Pablo Reinoso

Among the contemporary artists is Dutchman Joep van Lieshout of Atelier van Lieshout or AVL whose Wellness Skull is on exhibition:

Wellness Skull represents a highpoint of AVL’s provocative creations. The human skull – universal symbol of knowledge, wisdom, evolution, and eternal token of fugitive life – is transformed into a center for indulgence and relaxation. The upper cranium houses a fully working sauna and the lower section offers a bath/shower facility. The pierced eye sockets provide ventilation on the inside, whilst delivering a dramatic haze of steam when viewed from the outside. Commenting on the bizarre functionality of this giant memento mori, Joep van Lieshout, founder of the atelier, states: ‘the heavenly power is the big unknown, the death of the hereafter, the skull of the physical shell of the mind. The earthly power is an economical power. Money plays an important role in our contemporary society. Gradually faith loses all importance and is replaced by an alternative ‘self experience’, through travelling, sporting and wellness centres.’

In the meantime the Wellness Skull has traveled a bit: Here are photos I took  when it was on exhibition in Vienna:

With the Karlskirche in the back

Combining Art and Garden is excellent Destination Marketing

It’s not new, a sales exhibition of sculpture has been done many times, but an outdoor sales exhibition of modern design is reasonably new. I believe it is an extra ordinary idea to bring together three power houses: A destination powerhouse like Sudeley Castle, a curating powerhouse like Sotheby’s and a Gallery powerhouse like the London based The Carpenter Shop Gallery that traditionally has strong ties with the Dutch design scene….

Ah and -very modern- Sudeley Castle has a Twitter account

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