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The Crack Magazine

Chantal Herbert and Dami Fawehinmi landscape.JPG

Trust in Art

The National Trust has a plethora of exciting things for art lovers to see over the next few months including this little lot…

One of the feathers in National Trust’s extravagant hat is the gorgeous Seaton Delaval Hall, and it’s here that you’ll be able to see the first fruits of the inaugural North East Emerging Artist Award. This exciting new prize – a collaboration between the National Trust at Seaton Deleval Hall and independent curator Matthew Jarratt – was launched in November 2021 with a call-out for artists to showcase site-specific contemporary art in an historic context and to encourage emerging artists to develop proposals at Seaton Deleval Hall, one of the region’s most distinct historic settings. The competition was open to artists – in or from the north-east – who are in the final year of their undergraduate degree, studying for a masters’ degree, or who have graduated in the last three years.

Entries duly flooded in and three artists were presented with bursaries to realise their ideas. I say three artists, but it’s actually four because one of the winning entries is the work of two artists: Chantal Herbert and Dami Fawehinmi (pictured). Their piece is entitled ‘New Borders’ and it seeks to amplify the voices of the Global Majority living in the north-east. The work proposes to reimagine and decolonise spaces and is in direct response to the 1770s painting ‘John Delaval (1756-1775) as a Boy and an Unidentified Attendant’, which is on display in the West Wing. ‘New Borders’ seeks to reimagine the artwork with a contemporary context by giving the usually unheard voice an identity using photography and audio.

Created by designer-maker and architect Edmond Salter, ‘Vanbrugh Croquet’ meanwhile, is a playful, interactive outdoor game that involves hitting wooden balls with a mallet through a series of architectural ‘hoops’ that are inspired by Seaton Delaval Hall architect Sir John Vanbrugh and baroque architecture.

Finally, Northumbria dancer Maria Isidora’s ‘Timekeeping’ is an audiovisual installation that tasks the audience with the chance to choose between experiencing the artwork with sight or sound; either watching the performer playfully animate characters on a screen from the edge of the space, or enter the multi-channel audio environment that will immerse the listener in sound, encouraging the movement of the listeners’ imagination and body in space.

All of the above is taking place at Seaton Delaval Hall, but elsewhere in the north-east art lovers can also fill their boots at a variety of other National Trust properties including Cherryburn in Stocksfield. This is the birthplace of one of the region’s favourite sons, Thomas Bewick, a man famed for his wood engravings. It’s at Cherryburn that artist Marcus Coates will present his extraordinary installation ‘Conference for the Birds’, which celebrates the lives of the birds that Thomas Bewick depicted in his wood engravings. Bewick’s book ‘A History of British Birds’, first published in 1797, was a comprehensive guide to both the appearance and behaviour of birds. Coates’ installation turns Bewick’s engravings into sculptural/audio pieces. The birds – played by wildlife experts – discuss topics from migration to predation, with each species chatting about the challenges they face every day.

At Lindisfarne Castle, meanwhile, Paul Rooney’s ‘Song (After Nature)’ is back for a second year. A contemporary soundscape installation, it’s inspired by the island’s distinctive sounds and can be heard through parts of the imposing 16th century castle. The calls of the island’s resident grey seals, along with the cries of gulls, waves crashing on the shore and wind blowing across the open expanses have been ‘translated’ into a haunting cello composition. Rooney’s work acknowledges the renowned cellist and frequent guest at the castle, Guillermina Suggia, with the howls of the islands’ resident seals acting as a siren song, warning of the looming climate catastrophe and a future where nature only exists as a ghost.

North East Emerging Artist Award, 17 May-11 June (prior to that, two shortlisted artist proposals will be on display until 14 May), Seaton Delaval Hall; Conference for the Birds, 20 April-3 November, Cherryburn; Song (After Nature), 13 March-29 October. Ticket details from the National Trust website. Adult membership is also available for the National Trust, which starts from £7 month. Membership offers unlimited free entry to all of the above plus hundreds of other special places around the UK. More from: nationaltrust.org.uk