Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Simply Electric; If You Go Down to the Woods at Cragside Today - or Even into the House - You Are Sure of Some Big Surprises. David Whetstone Met the Artists Who Responded to a Challenge Posed by the National Trust ART

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Simply Electric; If You Go Down to the Woods at Cragside Today - or Even into the House - You Are Sure of Some Big Surprises. David Whetstone Met the Artists Who Responded to a Challenge Posed by the National Trust ART

Article excerpt

In words that may not be music to the ears of the National Trust, artist Wolfgang Weileder confides his first impression of Cragside: "It reminded me of the Munsters or the Addams Family." These comically spooky fictional characters might seem a world away from Lord and Lady Armstrong who, in the 1860s, created the imposing family home near Rothbury.

Then again...

the seven million trees they planted like a protective ring around the property must seem awfully dark at night. And how much weird fizzing and clanking must have been generated by the inventor and industrialist's fruitful tinkering? Cragside, as you may know, was the first home to be lit using hydroelectric power and a Victorian showcase for pioneering domestic gadgets. Weileder, an artist and professor in contemporary sculpture at Newcastle University, was one of four artists (one actually an art collective) commissioned by the National Trust to contribute to its Building Dreams programme marking the 150th anniversary of Cragside. Their responses to the property and its grounds can be seen there all summer. Talking to the artists, it was clear they were never going to struggle for inspiration.

All spoke enthusiastically about Andrew Sawyer, Cragside's head of conservation, who knows the house probably better than the Armstrongs ever did. "I usually don't work as an artist in the North East, but this opportunity came up and I was immediately inspired," said Weileder. "I'm a National Trust member and I like Cragside a lot.

I come with the family. "Andrew was so enthusiastic.

He showed us everything.

He took us around the house for two hours and he mentioned the book in which Lord Armstrong published his experiments. "He sent me a disc with some images and I was instantly excited.

If you're not then you might have to admit your heart's not in it. "But I knew quite quickly what I was going to do and it's quite a simple thing really. "The book was called Electric Movement in Air and Water and I brought those two things together with some beautiful images from the experiments in the book." The result is a trio of sailing dinghies, each bearing an image from Armstrong's book, bobbing on a lake high above Cragside. The Munsters/Addams Family reference comes to mind inside the house where Irene Brown's Fulmination will stop you in your tracks as you enter Lord Armstrong's study. Irene appears to have put Cragside into a five-litre chemistry bottle. With the aid of a tiny projector, a mirror and some special effects software, she has also made it appear a Hammer House of Horrors with jagged lightning and thunder clouds. "It's an incredibly atmospheric house, quite dark and mysterious, and I liked the idea of it being a place where people lived but also having an association with science," said Irene. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.