The owner of Kedleston Hall in the 1760’s, the young Lord Scarsdale, used the services of the emerging architect Robert Adam to create a new house in the tradition of classical Rome. Part of the process was to undertake a transformation of the surrounding estate into an evocation of an Italianate landscape.
In 2012 the National Trust wanted to tell the story of this incredible, historical landscape project. The perception of many visitors was that it was a ‘natural’ landscape and few realised historical significance or explored the land itself. They were also keen to attract new audiences, particularly families, without wanting to build a conventional play area.
Working with Jim Lee, Outdoors Manager, one of the main challenges was the implication of siting structural artworks within the historic Grade 1 listed landscape which included a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
With his historical and practical knowledge of the site, Jim and I worked closely to identify four locations for artworks throughout the grounds. This is the basis of a new historical walk that draws visitors into the heart of the Adam landscape.
I set up a communications and marketing team that included arts and cultural specialists Joff & Ollie to help plan and deliver all design, marketing and visitor experience requirements. This included a social media campaign that was a first for Kedleston Hall.
I also recruited two interns in partnership with the University of Nottingham, who helped to communicate with over 400 volunteers that work at Kedleston Hall and who helped deliver a Twitter campaign.
To find the right designer or artists, we developed a brief in partnership with Kedleston Hall and made a call out through regional and national networks.
From a huge response of over 270 artists, architects and designers, we shortlisted 5 to work up proposals for the historic site.
We selected Studio Weave for their approach, their understanding of the context and their elegant sculptural forms which were named the ‘Hear Heres’.
My work included creating a project master plan, negotiating with the planning offices, initiating the permissions for the artworks to be on site for a year and drawing up contracts between the various parties.
The fabrication, transport and installation was managed by AB3 Workshops in partnership with the Kedleston team and Studio Weave. The project was safely installed in eight days.
The project resulted in three contemporary landmarks located around the grounds of Kedleston Hall that have drawn many visitors through the historic landscape. The artworks were supported by a new walk that was supported by a fun and accessible map that marked historical and natural highlights on route.
The walk was also aided by an elegant and cost effective signposts to guide people through the Adam landscape.
Success and impact
- Positive response from Kedleston staff and visitors
- Hear Here walk is very popular amongst new and regular visitors
- Added outdoor attraction in less busy winter months
- Due to popularity, the supporting map was reprinted after the first 6 months
- The signposts are being enjoyed by kids and are withstanding the rubbing up of sheep
- An in-house desire to invite other artists to respond to the new walk
- Excellent regional press coverage
- Kedleston’s public profile strengthened as a landmark property for contemporary art projects
- New profile within contemporary art and architecture communities
“To us, the Hear Heres are half-alive – listening instruments but also listening themselves – and now that they are made, we love how you can imagine they’ve grown by themselves; stretched out into the landscape and straining to hear Kedleston’s secrets.”