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London Fieldworks at Clumber Park

Date uploaded: July 23, 2012

Artists to build leopard house and mansion for birds at National Trust
London Fieldworks at Clumber Park

ADDRESS: Clumber Park, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S80 3AZ
Open from Saturday 4th August through to winter 2012 daily from 10am – 5pm.

Artists to build mansion for birds
Internationally acclaimed artists, London Fieldworks (Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson), will take the theme of ‘The lost house of Clumber’ and re-imagine it as a series of mansions for birds in a tree borne sculpture entitled Spontaneous City in the Cedar of Lebanon. They will build a spectacular cluster of bird boxes housed in one of the park's vast cedar trees. The sculpture will make reference to the many elegant rooms of the Dukes of Newcastle's former country seat, now lifted from the ground and redesigned to accommodate the park's avian residents.

Cedar is the wood from which the temples and palaces of the ancient Middle East were constructed and this Cedar tree will become an architectural gem for birds. Intertwining the lives of the park's inhabitants both past and present, human and avian, Spontaneous City invites visitors to wander in their imaginations among the Greek columns of a vanished house, take flights of fancy through a treetop metropolis, or simply observe the birds moving into their new Clumber Park accommodation.

A Leopard at Leisure
Many a Duke or Lord has aspired to own a menagerie, a collection of exotic and rare animals from around the world, and the 4th Duke of Newcastle was no exception. However, the leopard he imported from India failed to adjust to a new life at Clumber House, and was eventually sent to London's zoological gardens.

Now the leopard returns in the form of a new artwork by London Fieldworks, simply titled The Leopard. Lazing contentedly on a tree branch, a picture of regal elegance, the animal is transformed into a fine Regency chaise longue. Moving between colonial India and central England, the aristocratic 19th Century and the present day, the leopard adapts to its new environment by changing its shape, and finally becomes 'part of the furniture'.

The Leopard will be viewable by visitors from a specially designed observation platform. Rising in the background is the park's imposing Gothic Revival chapel, its spiritual aspirations and upward-pointing vertical lines a counterpoint to the horizontal luxury of the chaise longue.

National Trust have invited London Fieldworks to create Spontaneous City and The Leopard as part of their new contemporary art programme ‘Playful Landscapes’.

"Creative projects can often help people see somewhere in a new way," explains The National Trust's Tom Freshwater.

Jane Greenfield, The National Trust's contemporary art development officer in the East Midlands, says "London Fieldworks have a real talent for fusing art, architectural ideas and the outdoors. The resulting work is really inventive and integrates beautifully with the natural landscape”.

Numerous public events will be included in the project.

'Playful Landscapes' is part of ‘Trust New Art’, an arts programme developed by The National Trust in partnership with Arts Council England.

About London Fieldworks:
London Fieldworks, based in east London, was formed in 2000 by artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson as a cross-disciplinary and collaborative arts practice working across social engagement, installation, video and animation, situating works both in the gallery and in the landscape.

Early works Gastarbyter (1997), Syzygy (1999) and Polaria (2001) asked questions about the authenticity of mediated experience, especially experience of place, while exploring poetic uses of technology. These projects were seminal to the artists’ notion of ecology as a complex inter-working of social, natural, and technological worlds. Ensuing projects created speculative works of fiction out of a mix of ecological, scientific and pop cultural narratives. The audio-visual installation Little Earth (2005) was shot on Haldde Mountain in the Norwegian Arctic, Ben Nevis in Scotland, and on the island of Svalbard, and involved a collaboration with the Leicester Radio & Space Plasma Physics Group. As a prelude to the gallery installation, the project formally twinned two mountain-top observatories. SpaceBaby: Guinea Pigs Don’t Dream (2006) and Hibernator: Prince of the Petrified Forest (2007) are part of a trilogy of works exploring themes of suspended animation, technology, fantasy and death. The third project in the trilogy, Super Kingdom: Monarchy (2008), investigates how human and animal habitats interact and overlap, and reflects how both human and animal hierarchy can be understood in terms of territorial ownership of the landscape. The work is set within an architectural installation in the ancient forest of King’s Wood in Kent.

Recent London Fieldworks projects have been motivated by ideas around performative architecture, that the meaning of a building consists largely in its acts, in its performances: these projects include Super Kingdom, Kings Wood, Kent (2008-ongoing), and Outlandia, Glen Nevis, Scotland (2010-ongoing).

Super Kingdom: Monarchy was awarded an Honorary Mention in the Hybrid Art category of Ars Electronica, Linz 2010; Hibernator: Prince of the Petrified Forest was awarded with a Special Mention by the jury of the International Competition VIDA 10.0, Madrid 2007.

About Clumber Park:

Clumber Park was once the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle. Although the house was demolished in 1938, glimpses of its grand past remain - from the Gothic style chapel, known as a ‘cathedral in miniature’, to the peaceful pleasure ground and Walled Kitchen Garden.

Today Clumber is owned and managed by The National Trust, offering visitors the freedom to discover an idyllic ducal park. Attractions include 20 miles of cycle routes, a climbing forest and play park, tractor and ferry rides, and a new Discovery Centre.

With 3,800 acres of picturesque parkland and gardens, peaceful woodlands and a magnificent lake, Clumber’s mosaic of habitats is home to an amazing array of wildlife.

Photo: Spontaneous City by London Fieldworks

Photo: Spontaneous City by London Fieldworks