For a number of years now, Sotheby’s have held an exhibition of sculptures in the gardens at Chatsworth. It’s advertised as a “selling exhibition”, but I doubt if the vast majority of visitors would have to means to contemplate purchasing any of the works on display. I guess Sotherby’s use it as an opportunity to show of their wares to prospective clients who will, no doubt, be invited to be lavishly entertained in the sumptuous surroundings of this grand stately home of the Duke of Devonshire at private showings. But the exhibition also a great opportunity for more ordinary mortals to see some outstanding Modern Art.
There were works by some artists I knew, such as Anthony Gormley and Lynn Chadwick, but there were plenty of discoveries too
In my view, large works of sculpture such as those included in the exhibition, are enhanced by being located outdoors in parkland – and the Gardens at Chatsworth with the Palladian mansion certainly provided a magnificent backdrop. Being sited outdoors allows different perspectives to be obtained – from a distance and from close up and from different angles. For me, a large complex work Hoop-La by Alice Aycock wouldn’t have worked indoors. But in the park we could get an overview from a distance, get close in to appreciate the complexity of the work and the artist’s craftsmanship, view it from different angles which revealed different perspectives, shapes and effects created by both the work and the changing view of the garden, lake and house. This was also true for many of the other works on display. We felt that the curators had done a very good job at selecting appropriate locations for the sculptures.
Visiting the exhibition was the main motivation for our short break in the Peak District. We were lucky as it turned out to be a fine day – it would have been less pleasant walking round the gardens to view the sculpture if had been raining. The exhibition has become an annual event and I think that we’ll be making the effort to return next Autumn.