Antony Gormley’s ‘Field for the British Isles’ arrives at Barrington Court

This spring and summer, three rooms at Barrington Court will be filled with Antony Gormley’s acclaimed work Field for the British Isles, consisting of 40,000 small clay figures.
Barrington Court in Somerset is one of five National Trust properties around the country to be chosen to exhibit a special selection of pieces on loan from the Arts Council Collection, the largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, as part of the Trust New Art programme.
Barrington Court is normally empty of furniture and the three ground floor rooms will be transformed by the presence of the exhibition of Antony Gormley’s work.

Antony Gormley's Field for the British Isles at Barrington Court

Barrington Court has been invaded this summer by thousands of tiny figures.

This is the first time that Field for the British Isles has been spread through three rooms. Antony Gormley is one of Britain’s foremost sculptors, his most famous work being the Angel of the North in Gateshead. His work frequently uses human figures, including several involving life sized cast iron figures. Barrington Court is no stranger to contemporary art, but Field for the British Isles is by far the most ambitious project to have been brought to the National Trust house.
Talking about Field coming to Somerset Antony Gormley said: “Field for the British Isles has been in the Arts Council Collection for years and has been seen in varied venues. I hope that at Barrington the impression that the work could go on forever as it reaches into inaccessible places works, so that it appears to have flooded the space. It’s good that the Trust commissions and shows new art. All art was contemporary once.”
Sonja Power, Barrington Court’s House and Collections Manager said. “The figures won’t just fill the rooms, they flow across them from wall to wall,” said ‘The house is normally empty spaces – now it has been brought to life by thousands and thousands of tiny people. We have had contemporary art at Barrington before but this is an entirely different scale. Even with the rest of the house still empty, it will make people look at Barrington in a very different way – and respond to Gormley’s installation in a new way as well.”

Antony Gormley's Field for the British Isles at Barrington Court

Local Somerset volunteers helped to set up the work

In keeping with the artist’s instructions, the installation will be set up by local people from across Somerset, who will be working with a team from the Arts Council Collection. Eight of the volunteers involved have been recruited from SCAT (Somerset College of Art and Technology). The Fine Art degree students all of them have a specific interest in installation and sculptural practice. Other volunteers work for South Somerset District Council’s arts and cultural unit while others volunteer already for the Trust at Barrington Court.
“Having local community involvement is integral to this work,” explained Paul Howard, who is managing in the installation for the National Trust.
“The figures were each made by the local community on Merseyside and here it is the people of Somerset who will be placing them in Barrington. Each figure is obviously hand made, very simple and yet they look back at you as you look into the rooms – and make the rooms feel so very different. They invade the rooms with their presence but also occupy the minds of those who see the installation, often creating an unexpected reaction.”
Antony Gormley said: “Field was my first collaborative work. The concept was mine, but it could not have been made without the help of many people. The instructions to create the work are very simple. You sit on the floor. You take a ball of clay from a pile. With your clay, you create a “body” in the space between your hands. You allow it to stand up, and make it conscious by giving it eyes with the point of a sharpened pencil. That repeated action of taking a hand-sized ball of clay, squeezing it between your hands, standing it up and giving it consciousness becomes meditative, the repeated action becoming almost like breathing, or a heartbeat.”

Antony Gormley's Field for the British Isles at Barrington Court

The figures in Field for the British Isles were all hand made by volunteers

The figures were made by a community of families in St Helens, Merseyside, and Gormley won the Turner Prize in 1994 for his 1993 exhibition at Tate Liverpool which included Field. It has taken five days to set up the installation at Barrington Court.
Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection, said: “The Arts Council Collection has always been committed to showing works in the widest possible range of public buildings across the UK. We are delighted to be working with Barrington Court to bring Field for the British Isles to a new audience as part of the Trust New Art initiative.”
In addition to hosting the exhibition, Barrington Court will be running workshops for school groups and visitors who will make their own figures at the property.
Trust New Art is the National Trust’s 3-year programme in partnership with the Arts Council England to promote contemporary and modern art in its historic places.
Field for the British Isles has been loaned by the Arts Council Collection, as part of a new collaboration with the National Trust which will see five sites in the Trust’s care show modern and contemporary works from the Collection in selections that resonate with each site’s history and unique character.
Field for the British Isles will be at Barrington Court from 28 April to 27 August 2012. For opening times and other information telephone 01460 241938 or visit

Coleridge Cottage re-opens

The small West Country cottage, birthplace of poetry’s Romantic movement and where Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote his most remembered poetry is being re-opened following a major re-presentation and restoration project.

The cottage – home to Coleridge for three years at a time when he was at his most creative -has been presented in the style that he would have been familiar with. For the first time, the garden is now open to visitors and rooms not seen before in the Victorian extension to the rear are also open, telling the story of the birth of the Romantic Movement in the West Country.

The National Trust, who has cared for the cottage for over 100 years, has worked with the Friends of Coleridge Society to show what life was like in the cottage.

“We’ve tried to recreate the atmosphere of the cottage in the poet’s day while also preserving original features. In the parlour as you enter the cottage we were delighted to find that the original fireplace had survived, bricked up in the wall. This is almost certainly the fireplace Coleridge mentions at length in the poem Frost at Midnight so we have restored it and made it the prominent feature of the room once more,” said Stephen Hayes, Project Manager.

The kitchen will also be seen by visitors for the first time and, although little survives from Coleridge’s day, it is the place where Sara Coleridge spilt hot milk scalding his foot preventing him from going on a walk with William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Instead, sitting under a bower in the garden of his friend Tom Poole, Coleridge wrote This Lime Tree Bower my Prison, one of his greatest poems, imagining the walk through the Quantocks his friends were taking.

A tour of the house takes visitors through the parlours and kitchen downstairs and to the bedrooms on the first floor – all original rooms Coleridge and his family lived in.

Visitors then move into the Victorian extension on the rear where the rooms have a Victorian décor and tell the story of the birth of the Romantic Movement in the West Country. There is the chance to write with a quill pen and become immersed in poetry in the property’s sitting room.

“We have been fortunate in being able to present the original rooms as Coleridge might recognise them but also in having the later addition to the cottage to tell more of the story of how important the West Country was to Romanticism,” added Stephen. “Our team has done an excellent job in creating something which lets you experience Coleridge’s rooms as if he had just popped out and also explaining the background, allowing visitors the chance to just pause and think.”

“We have planned this project very much with the visitors’ enjoyment in mind and we have even included a small tearoom in our small undercover courtyard.”

The garden has been replanted very much in the spirit of Coleridge’s time at the Cottage with wild flowers, a small orchard, a vegetable plot and Somerset Willow Company’s representation of the Lime Tree Bower, has been placed at the far end for visitors to sit and perhaps write their own poetry.

The 17th Century Cottage was home to Coleridge for three years, from 1797. It was during his time here in Somerset that Coleridge wrote his finest work, including This Lime Tree Bower my Prison; Frost at Midnight, The Nightingale, Kubla Khan, Christabel and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

He and Wordsworth also produced a volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, which is regarded as a crucial point in the development of the literary Romantic Movement.

This project has received £175,000 funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund and has been supported by Western Somerset Local Action Group, which is part of the Rural Development Programme for England. Additional funding came from Quantock Hills AONB Sustainable Development Fund; the Quantock Centre of the National Trust and The Friends of Coleridge.

For more information please see:

Mass south west beach clean

Going to the beach for a walk with my dogs is about the most enjoyable and relaxing thing I do but I was really shocked to discover that there are two pieces of litter for every footstep I and you take on beaches in the south west.

It seems this tide of litter on our beaches is on the increase and not only can it be a  health hazard to us and off putting for our much needed tourists, its estimated that over 100,000 marine animals die every year from entanglement or ingestion of plastics, discarded on our beaches or at sea.

An annual event for us in the Trust and our energetic band of volunteers is our annual spring beach clean, and this year from the 2nd of April, we have 27 beach cleans taking place from Cape Cornwall to the top of Dorset.

Beach cleaning not only helps to improve the coastal habitat for plants and animals but also to ensure beaches that we care for are clean and ready for the first visitors of the season.  But its a big job as we care for over 700 miles of coastline in the south west and each beach costs approximately £400 to clean each time.

If we stood all the skips we fill with beach rubbish side by side, it would stretch as far as three Jumbo jets parked end to end.  If stacked on top of one another it would stand as high as 20 London double-decker buses .

Marine environments are also hugely affected by litter pollution at every level – from tiny microscopic organisms through to the very largest animals such as whales and turtles. Even the most remote beaches are affected by litter blown or brought in on the tide. Litter comes from many sources – the public, fishing activities, sewage pipes and shipping, but it is all preventable.

Previous beach cleans have revealed a number of items from the grounding of the Napoli on Branscombe Beach including BMW parts.  Parts of an old cooking range probably from old cottages washed away in the early 1900’s were discovered at a beach clean on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall, a scaffold clamp from a WW2 beach defence barrier an unbroken light bulb and a telegraph pole weighing 1 tonne, were some of the other items.

Rangers in charge of the beach cleans are anticipating that various plastics will form the greatest volume of litter, and these can present some of the greatest hazards to wildlife, both on and offshore. Plastics can be ingested by turtles, seabirds and cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc) and noxious contaminants can also poison wildlife.

All our teams involved will be reporting on the volume of rubbish found on their beaches, and documenting the stranger or more surprising items found!

Below you’ll find details of beach cleans taking place over the next week or so, otherwise contact your local National Trust place for more details of how you can get involved.

Ayrmer Cove – Ringmore 2 April, 10am
Woolacombe Beach at Mill Rock 5 April 10am
Mansands 6 April,  10am
Scabbacombe 6 April, (following mansands clean)
Wembury Beach 13 April, 10am
Trelissick 6 April, 9.30am onwards
Turnaware 6 April, 9.30am onwards
North Helford 6 April, 9.30am onwards
Gunwalloe Church Cove 9 April, 10am – 1pm
Cape Cornwall Car Park 9 April, 2pm
Godrevy Beach 2 April, 10am
Porth Curno 9 April, 10am
Penberth Cove 9 April (following beach clean at Porth Curno)
Polzeath 2 April, 10-12 noon
Holywell 6 April, 1-3pm
Crantock 6 April, 10-12
Northcott 10 April, 10-12
Poldhu Beach 2 April, 10am
Porthcurnick 4 April, 10am
Strangles 5 April, 10 – 12
Brownsea Island 16th March
Seatown 17 April 11 -1
Burton Bradstock 17 April 11 -1
Cogden 17 April 11 -1
West Bexington 17 April 11 -1
Ringstead 17 April 11 -1
Studland Heath (Poole Harbour side) 13 April, time
Porlock Beach Clean up 15 May, 10am
Brean Down 13 April, 9.30 – 3pm

Celebrating spring Bristol style

Spring walks at Tyntesfield, nr Bristol, North Somerset

Spring walks at Tyntesfield, nr Bristol, North SomersetAs dappled sunshine peeped out across the South West, we celebrated the arrival of spring (and the weekend) in Bristolian style at Tyntesfield.Time for a squiz at the new Home Farm visitor centre and a carefree walk around Tyntesfield’s sprawling grounds before a spell in the city.

A mighty fine soya cappuccino and gluten-free shortbread (spot the girl with special dietary requirements) from Tyntesfield’s Home Farm set me on my way. It was lovely to see lots of families striding about and breathing in the fresh air. Strolling past the picnickers and kids having a kick about was a splendid way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Have a peek at our pictures.

I glowed with a little vicarious pride as I overheard lots of positive oohs and aahs coming from fellow explorers of this grand Victorian estate.

‘This is a gorgeous, gorgeous place’ – sighed one Bristol resident.
Another remarked ‘Everywhere smells lovely after the grass has been cut.’

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Seas of narcissi and daffodils under the trees, pots of purple hyacinths and freshly sewn seeds in the kitchen garden added to the spring in my step.

And with Tyntesfield‘s turrets and pinnacles standing proud and free from scaffolding for the first time in two years – what a lot of eye candy on show.

The Spring Festival

Continuing Bristol’s seasonal celebrations required a stop at The Spring Festival in the city centre. It was great to see a fellow National Truster – roving recruiter Emma – setting up her stall among local lovers of the outdoors and moreish morsels.

Find her there tomorrow (Sunday 27 March, 11am-5pm) at Brunel’s Old Station (next to Temple Meads). She’ll be joined by the Tyntesfield crew who promise lots of inspiration on getting outdoors and closer to nature just outside one of Britain’s greenest cities.

Why not stop by to find out more about fun things to do in the fresh air from yoga on the lawn to growing your own veg. Simple pleasures, hey?

See Tyntesfield unwrapped for spring

An impressive sight awaits you at the National Trust’s Tyntesfield in North Somerset when the Gothic Victorian house and chapel re-open today. For the first time in nearly two years you can see the spectacular Victorian mansion unobscured by scaffolding.

See 28 miles of scaffolding disappear before your very eyes on this time lapse film video. Now you can admire the dramatic Gothic architecture of the house and chapel in all its glory. For over 18 months the roof has been hidden behind one of the largest temporary free standing roof structures in Europe, the size of 10 tennis courts while repairs and restoration work were taking place. Keep up to date on our conservation activities by visiting Tyntesfield’s blog.

Stylish again for spring

Unwrapped, the romantic vista of turrets and pinnacles, chimneys and gables that make up the Tyntesfield skyline are revealed once more. Watertight and weatherproof the newly restored black and red tiles display the complex geometric pattern that had been unseen for generations; its bold colour scheme a striking contrast to the golden tones of the Bath stone of the house itself.

Fresh interiors

Inside, rooms that had been stripped of their contents, covered in dust sheets or used as storage during the renovation works have been unwrapped too. Objects that were carefully packed away and moved into storage by trained staff and specialists have returned.

Meghan Wilton, Acting House Manager explained:

“This colossal project has been a bit like moving house, but imagine a house with over 100 rooms and more than 40, 000 objects, ranging from Victorian cooking utensils and toys to rare and delicate pieces of furniture.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to see all the work complete as we begin to re-present the rooms, evoking the different ways all four generations of the Gibbs’ family used the house. The Main Hall, for example, with its chairs and jigsaw puzzles, recalls its time as a family living room in the 1890s, making it the perfect place to stop off and relax. I can’t wait to see the visitors’ reactions.”

Come and see us

Tyntesfield house and chapel opens on Monday 28 February 10.30am -5pm (Saturday- Wednesday; 01275 461900).

The garden and estate are open everyday from Monday 28 February from 10am-6pm.

Home Farm, visitor centre’s restaurant, shop and café are free to visit and open everyday from Monday 28 February from 10.30am-4.30pm.

Tyntesfield unwrapped

A major milestone is about to be reached. The building restoration work on the house and chapel is coming to an end. It reopens on 28 February along with the Home Farm Visitor Centre which houses a splendid restaurant, shop, exhibition space and exciting family play area.

For the past 18 months over 28 miles of scaffold poles have encased the house but now the newly retiled roof with its vibrant black and red diaper pattern is fully restored – and watertight. The house is home to eight species of bats which are protected by strict legislation. So it was bat-friendly building work.

TyntesfieldWhen you step inside the house you step into a Victorian home – with modern touches discretely hidden. Not least a 21st Century heating system using a wood fired boiler to reduce carbon emissions and completely new electrical wiring which is hidden behind old, refurbished, switches and fittings.

Project Manager Tim Cambourne says, “After years of planning and some challenging moments, being able to share this extraordinary project with visitors has been well worth it. The scale of work that has taken place here is quite extraordinary and is probably one of the most significant moments in Tyntesfield’s history.”

Tyntesfield's weathervane forecasting a good season

Highlights of the restoration include the return of the cockerel weather vane – regilded during conservation, it forms a striking sight on the highest point of the house. Joining the cockerel amongst the spectacular turrets and pinnacles of Tyntesfield’s rooftop is the recently reinstated bell spire which was probably originally used to call or keep time for estate staff.

The completion of the building restoration work to the mansion and chapel means conservation within the house can progress. In the butler’s pantry you’ll meet the Inventory Officer busy still cataloguing the many thousands of objects that make up the Tyntesfield collection, each of which contribute to the history and story of the house. The discoveries range from nostalgic ice cream containers to far more ominous bones found hidden between the joists of a first-floor bathroom.

Outside of the house, there is much to see and do. In the rose garden take a seat in the beautifully repaired gazebos, pick up seasonal produce in the kitchen garden or enjoy one of the walks in the wider estate, including routes along the Victorian carriage ways with views across the Yeo Valley.