Over the last few months we have had lots of ideas for the work we want to make for our final installation at Mottisfont, sparked by the workshops with our co-creative group and the conversations with Mottisfont staff and volunteers. Observing the changes in the gardens and the way people move through the grounds has also had a big influence on the way our ideas have been developing.
As Elvis Costello once sung – it was a good year for the roses. Visitor numbers reached record levels as the roses reached their peak and we queued up with visitors to file past the blooms. The crowds are great for business yet they also put stress on the infrastructure of Mottisfont. The need to preserve and maintain is in contrast to the drive to attract new audiences; it is at these busy times when this tension becomes most apparent. The illusion can be so easily broken.
Our ideas have grown from this observation – initially how to preserve part of this rose garden so it could be viewed at all times of the year and continue to attract visitors even in the winter months when visitor numbers are much lower. Our request to pick and preserve 1800 roses to recreate an eternal rose garden was not possible, but the seed of an idea was planted and has now crystallized.
Over August we have been working in our studio making models and trying out ideas for our final installation which will involve creating a mirrored chamber to create an infinite landscape and garden. We will be making this for the loose box in the stable block and will be installing this during late September and October.
Running parallel to this will be an installation in the room housing the Piscina (formally old bookshop), which is near the cafe in the main house. Over the residency period our co-creative group of U3A’s and Winchester School of Art students and graduates have been developing their own work in response to Mottisfont. It has been fascinating to observe how each person has responded to the brief and to see how Mottisfont as a place for creative inspiration have its effect.
There are so many layers to this place and it’s not surprising that this is reflected in some of the work that has been produced so far. Cole – a recent graduate has been developing an art work using layers of glass sheets and drawing with smoke and Andy has been developing a folded card cut made up of layered views of Mottisfont. From the U3A’s we have had a poetic response to the Great Plane Tree by Anna and a range of detailed watercolours of Mottisfont vistas from Sandi and Cynthia. Other diverse responses are still forming from the group and over the coming weeks we will be working together to display all of this work in the old bookshop.
Our preference is to set this up as a creative laboratory of ideas and responses rather than as an exhibition of artworks. All through our residency we have wanted to embrace the idea of the story-scapes of Mottisfont and that the resulting installations reflect this. We are really looking forward to seeing this all come together in the next month or so.