Internationally renowned artist, Susie MacMurray, will present her new large scale work ‘Gathering’, between 28th June – 6th October 2019 at Tatton Park. The artwork has been specifically designed for display in the Mansion and has been inspired by the work of East Cheshire Hospice. 'Gathering’ complements the Mansion’s ‘Tatton Ball’ exhibition; an exhibition which explores every aspect of the grand ball held in 1897, from the guests who attended to the food which was consumed.
Supported by Arts Council England and The Arts Society, this major artwork will explore love and memory, support and care, loss and grief.
Susie, tell us about the origins of the Tatton Park project.
I was approached by Art Fair Cheshire to see if I’d be interested in working with them on an installation project in addition to their biennial art fair, to raise funds for East Cheshire Hospice. They wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fair by having an extra event. The combination of a cause close to my heart and a venue like the mansion at Tatton Park was very appealing.
What are the dominant themes present in this installation?
Gathering reflects on the deeply imperfect but still wonderful human body, and on the nature of loss and remembering. In part it draws more directly than normal on the experience of my own husband’s death from cancer. It also speaks to the host of extraordinary people who, if we are lucky enough, gather around and hold us up as we tread a difficult and excruciating path.
How does this project fit within your larger body of work?
My wider practice covers sculpture and drawing in addition to installation. Although I work with a number of different materials, I am continually drawn back to thoughts concerning the ephemeral, the fragile and the powerfully protective. No matter what else the work might be addressing, there is inevitably an underlying engagement with mortality, the coexistence of power and vulnerability within the human body, and most frequently within the feminine.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In materials, in bodies, and in the stories connected to places. Also sometimes in ancient mythology and fairy tales.
Take us through your creative process; do you start with imaging materials, concepts, or locations first?
My work in the studio develops through a process of material play. I find it impossible to separate materials and objects from the variety of ideas, connotations or contexts that become attached to them in the world. I think of it as a kind of ‘semiotics of stuff’. I am endlessly juxtaposing things to see what kind of unexpected conversation they might have. So if I am asked to respond to a site or a building, a lengthy kind of juggling and honing process takes place, until a work finally coalesces into something that resonates between material, context and site. It’s a little like tuning a stringed instrument until the sound becomes as pure as you can make it.
How does the location enhance this work in this case?
Gathering at Tatton is slightly different from my normal approach to a building because it responds as much to the commissioners’ context as it does to the site. The piece sprang from an engagement with the hospice but needed to sit comfortably within the architectural and historical context of Tatton.
In 1897 a grand costume ball was held at Tatton - a gathering, theatrical and wildly extravagant. I was drawn immediately to the architecture of the staircase hall, with it’s circular cut out landing hovering halfway between the ground floor below and the cupola high above. I imagined leaning on the railing with a birds-eye view of the attendees, bedecked in their velvet finery, promenading below.
Architecturally the space invites the work to cascade through the void like Spanish moss. Gathering is voluptuous but wounded. I also found a curious resonance between this in-between space and the idea of hospice.
Why should people come and see this installation?
I would be delighted if people came to see Gathering to support East Cheshire Hospice. I would also hope that they might find the work thought provoking at the same time as being seductive and spectacular. It is always a privilege to respond to a site like the mansion at Tatton, and to work with such a warm and dedicated team.
Gathering will be sold off at the end of the exhibition to raise funds for East Cheshire Hospice
Individual Element: £30.00 each
Medium limited edition made up of elements: £500.00 each
Large limited edition made up of elements: £1500.00 each
Limited edition prints: £225.00 each