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A touch of Italy in the northern countryside
This week: Inspired by Italy exhibition at Beningbrough Hall; John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery; Factory International's official opening programme; World Gurning Championships
‘A JOURNEY of discovery,’ is how black-and-white photographer Kate Somervell describes her latest project - an exhibition exploring the connections between Italy and the baroque mansion Beningbrough Hall in North Yorkshire.
Her images of the National Trust property and hidden Venice will be displayed alongside works by 18th century printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who once said: “I believe that if I were commissioned to design a new universe, I would be mad enough to undertake it.”
As one of the most remarkable baroque houses in England, Beningbrough is almost like its own universe - with all the mystery that comes along with it. Only a shadowy outline of its history has so far been pieced together. It was built in the early-1700s by John Bourchier around 300m south east of the site of the home of his Elizabethan ancestors.
Having shortly returned from a ‘grand tour’ of Europe, Bourchier’s tastes were heavily influenced by the architecture he had seen during his trip. Italy was a particular favourite. He worked with chief craftsman William Thornton, who created the hall’s striking cantilevered staircase and fine woodcarving.
As Kate explored the hall and its grounds, she was surprised by how much Beningbrough and the country that inspired it has in common.
“Initially, I had no idea how many parallels there would be to discover in rhythm, materials, design, and architectural elements that would echo from Venice to Beningbrough,” she says. “A true journey of discovery.”
Paring her images with Piranesi’s prints of buildings and architectural details seemed a natural fit - giving a flavour of the sights that Bourchier wanted to see created in his own home.
The son of a stonemason and master builder, Piranesi was instructed in structural and hydraulic engineering by an uncle. He also studied stage design and perspective construction.
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The National Trust has a large collection of his works - pictures of the remains of Roman temples, views of the Pantheon and Basilica of St Peter, marble vases, stone pillars, friezes and cornices.
Inspired By Italy will be the first exhibition in Beningbrough’s new galleries since the house re-opened after a two-year refurbishment. They have been renamed for the late Ian Reddihough, a proud Yorkshireman who left a lasting gift in his will to support the hall’s conservation and care.
Inspired by Italy opens on Saturday, September 16 on the first floor of Beningbrough Hall in North Yorkshire. The exhibition runs until March 17, 2024. More details here.
We’re Also Buzzing About…
John Moores Painting Prize: It’s a big occasion for the art world tonight as the winner of Britain’s longest-running painting competition is announced at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. Works by Nicholas Baldion, Graham Crowley, Emily Kraus, Damian Taylor and Francisco Valdes have been shortlisted from more than 3,000 entries. You can see those and the rest of the exhibition from Saturday. It runs until February 25, 2024. More details here. And if you want to be among the first to find out the winner, keep an eye on the Walker’s X/Twitter feed from 7pm.
The Welcome: Factory International has unveiled details of a nine-day celebration to mark Aviva Studios’ official opening. Highlights include a free programme of music, Filipino artist-designer Leeroy New’s latest installation Balete Spacecraft and Cirque Kalabanté’s dynamic show Afrique en Cirque. November 11-19. More here.
World Gurning Championships: Egremont Crab Fair (September 15-16) is one of the oldest fairs in the country thanks to its founding by royal charter in 1267, and the World Gurning Championships are its crowning event. The local market hall will be packed out with entertainers, a junior talent competition, traditional horn blowing and hunting/comic songs on Saturday before the gurning begins at 6pm. Find out more here.
That’s it for another week - and it looks like that’s it for the summer too. As much as I enjoy the seemingly never-ending days and the bright weather, I am definitely more of an autumn person. The trees wearing their russet coats, the whiff of bonfire on the breeze, the promise of a fresh start - and of course the beginning of a new season of exhibitions, theatre, music and events.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2023? Let me know on Twitter, in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading. Have a great week,