within the gossamer golden harp strings

This Sunday just gone I went to see Susie MacMurray‘s installation ‘Promenade‘ at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire. Kedleston Hall is an impossibly grand place set in beautiful countryside. The house itself is often refered to as a ‘show palace’ as it’s that grand. It’s featured in much of the film ‘The Duchess‘ with Keira Knightley, which, if you’ve ever watched it, should give you an idea of the scale of grandness. Looking at her website, a lot of MacMurray’s work has this delicate ghost like touch mainly due, I guess, to the materials she uses. Some of it reminds me of some of Ellen Bell’s work at Wysing Arts but within different contexts.

Within the main hall between and around the marble pillars, MacMurray has wound and woven thousands of metres of metallic gold thread. The effect is quite remarkable. It creates this shimmering maze, a golden gauze across the width of the hall obscuring the view from either side so that people at either end or within the piece itself are blurred. You can peer over the top but that only heightens the sense of otherness as you then see what the piece is actually made of.

Walking around and within you’re sense of the space is totally altered as the eye follows the new lines spun within the space. I really wanted to reach out and pluck the threads – like some massive strung harp or zither. I could only imagine the noise it would make would be some giant phasing micro tonal glimmering drone, Phill Niblock like.

My crappy phone couldn’t take any decent photos of it. In fact the programme for the piece kind of let’s the installation down as it’s impossible to capture the effect of the work in dull autumn light when photographed. Thankfully, there is a film of it that shows the piece through time-lapse photography (see at the end of this post).

We spoke about the piece afterwards and all said how wonderful it was – uplifting, fascinating. How it transformed the space into something completely different. Walking down the stairs coming out of the hall, notes about the work, written by visitors onto packing labels, have been tied to the bannister using different coloured ribbons, which in itself look interesting.

The only negative for me about the work is the incredibly short time period it’s there for – 9 days! I’m usually the first to champion ephemerality but 9 days gives no chance for word of mouth promotion which seems such a shame. I only hope that over this period enough quality photographs of the piece emerge online.

EDIT!EDIT!EDIT! I’ve been contacted by Kedleston Hall (see comments below) pointing out that ‘Promenade’ is not on for 9 days but is running from 19th July to 11th Ocotber so PLENTY OF TIME TO SEE THIS!! GO NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 thoughts on “within the gossamer golden harp strings”

  1. Great to see your thoughts on Promenade. Just a note though, it opened on 19th July and closes on 11th October so not sure where the 9 days comes from? Still plenty of time to see it for others!

    Victoria Flanagan
    Property Manager

    1. Eeek! Sorry about that. Have amended the post to reflect ths new information. The reason I thought it ran for only 9 days was due to the National Trust guide I received about two weeks ago saying this…

      It got me organised to go though!

  2. It was originally going to close at the end of Sept so suspect NT newsletter just popped in details for last week it was planned to be on which coincided with autumn newsletter!

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