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Over the years Chatsworth House has become famous for its contemporary sculptures dotted around the gardens, but 2022 sees an exciting new exhibition “Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man at Chatsworth” set in the parkland.
When staying here at Hoe Grange you definitely need to add this to your holiday itinerary! And best of all the sculptures are in the park so there's no admission fee.
The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire are well known for their love of art. Not just the more traditional art you might expect, but contemporary and diverse art including sculptures on a grand scale.
This year the Chatsworth team have collaborated with the Burning Man artists to bring its distinctive culture of possibility and creativity to the Derbyshire landscape. Burning Man, is a unique annual exhibition of sculptures that is usually held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA.
Chatsworth with its lush, green parkland poses a colourful contrast to the usual stark desert backdrop for the Burning Man sculptures.
This free exhibition features 12 colossal sculptures, 8 of which have been brought over from America and carefully reassembled. Four new sculptures have been created by British artists with the help of local community groups, mirroring the build process in America where teams of volunteers gather in the desert to create new art works.
From steel wings 28ft tall that invite you to stretch out inside them; cuddly bears made from US pennies; to a trio of metal moths named Jayne, Luna and Gonzo. Perhaps most eye-catching of all, is the huge mechanical winged horse that gallops and breaths fire right outside Chatsworth House.
Sotheby’s Contemporary specialist Marina Ruiz Colomer, comments,“It may seem alien, works set within a quintessential English landscape rather than the arid desert conditions, but Chatsworth has a distinguished tradition of placing sculptures in its gardens to powerful effect.”
There is no set trail through the installation, but each sculpture is carefully positioned so that you can see one work from another. You are encouraged to wander at will, get up close, touch the sculptures and use all your senses and explore the exhibits to the full.
Your eye is naturally drawn by the rise and fall of the landscape and the metal glinting in the sunshine adds another dimension.
See the sculpture map here. You can easily spend 2 or 3 hours discovering new views of each sculpture as you go.
Downhill from “Le Attrata” by Margaret Long and Orion Fredericks, you can see “Randy Polumbo: Lodestar”. Polumbo crafted the sculpture from a World War II military jet, creating a beautiful flower, with a gathering place for guest “pollinators”
Taos-based Christina Sporrong’s “The Flybrary” a 20-foot steel head with book-like birds flying out, is perhaps the most dramatic piece. Placed on the banks of the River Derwent artist Sporrong deliberately turned the head away from the Chatsworth House so you have to venture across the bridge to get the best view.
The favourite of mine is of course “Wings of Glory” by Adrian Landon, a huge mechanical winged horse, with a 35 ft wing span, that majestically takes flight against Chatsworth’s Baroque façade.
Closer to home is Rebekah Waites piece "Relevé," inspired by the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, a bronze age archaeological site near Birchover. According to local legend, this circle was created when nine women were caught dancing on the Sabbath and were turned to stone as punishment.
Waites’s tribute to it will be made from some sweet chestnut trees which were felled because they were diseased. Relevé will be set ablaze on the celebratory final night of the installations, in true Burning Man style: another bold move for Chatsworth.
The Burning Man exhibition runs from April until 1st October, so there’s plenty of time to visit.
The sculptures featuring in the exhibition are: The Flybrary by Christina Sporrong, Lodestar by Randy Polumbo, Spread Eagle Wings of Wind by Bryan Tedrick, Le Attrata by Margaret Long and Orion Fredericks, Mum by Mr & Mrs Ferguson, Murder, Inc. by Charles Gadeken, Transmutation by Arturo Gonzales and Maru Izaguirre, and Wings of Glory by Adrian Landon. There will also be four works built on site by Benjamin Langholz with engineering by Amihay Gonen, Dana Albany, Shrine and Rebekah Waites.
Whilst the exhibition is free to access, if visiting by car, and you wish to park at Chatsworth, you need to book in advance. However if you book a ticket for the house, garden or farmyard, parking is included.
Note: during the Chatsworth International Horse Trials (13–15 May) and the Chatsworth Country Fair (2–4 September), sculptures will only be accessible with an event ticket.
Nine sculptures are set into the grass parkland, across an area just over one mile long and approximately half a mile wide. There is no fixed route or path from one sculpture to another. Seven sculptures are near to a tarmac road or gravel path. Many of the sculptures are large or tall and so can be seen from a distance.
Visit the Radical Horizons welcome hub to talk with volunteers and young ambassadors about the exhibition or book a guided tour, or pick up an activity sheet and get creative.
Chatsworth offers a number of additional experiences around the Burning Man sculptures that are well worth considering, including walking tours, mindful walking workshops, family art in the park and sunset or sunrise painting.
The Duke’s love of art is just as evident inside Chatsworth House. Alongside Radical Horizons is an exhibition called Living With Art We Love, displaying the Duke and Duchess’s private collection of modern art: some more in keeping with the style of the house (a corridor of Lucian Freud’s portraits) than others (a series of retina-shredding Michael Craig-Martin prints).
Book your stay with us at Hoe Grange in one of log cabins or gorgeous glamping pods and pop over to Chatsworth to see the Burning Man sculptures for yourself - we definitely recommend!!
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