The English, particularly the aristocracy, historically preferred their favourite animals to be hunted, shot, stuffed and mounted but they have also long been famous for preferring animals to other humans. The relationship with animals in literary classics ranges from the satirical – George Orwell: Animal Farm; affectionate – Gerald Durrell: My Family and other Animals; comic – Kenneth Grahame: The Wind in the Willows and AA Milne: Winnie the Pooh, to the sentimental – Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Squirrel Nutkin and Jemima Puddle-Duck. But the novelist George Eliot best expressed their appeal “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.“
House of Beasts is a group exhibition with new commissions and existing work in the Georgian stables, mansion and parkland of the National Trust property at Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. The works are inspired by and respond to Attingham’s history (built in 1785) and its collections to investigate our relationship with the faunal range of domestic, managed, feral or wild animals who live in close proximity to us or share our living space. These relationships can be both emotional or economic, as in the case of pets, dogs, horses and agricultural livestock. They can be obsessively admiring and curious as in the scientific collections of birds or butterflies, or antagonistic, as with moles or rats. At Attingham, various personages throughout the centuries have illustrated aspects of this relationship. House of Beasts will highlight the importance of Attingham’s animal population, past and present, and its part in the history of the estate.
New commissions by: Ruth Claxton, Tessa Farmer, Tom Gallant, Des Hughes, Susie MacMurray, Sophie Molins. Works by: Marcus Coates, Mat Collishaw, Robert Davies, Rachel Goodyear, Kathleen Herbert, Henry Krokatsis, Alastair Mackie. Kate MccGwire, Polly Morgan, Nina Saunders, Anj Smith, Hugo Wilson, Daphne Wright
House of Beasts is managed by Meadow Arts who commission and site new art works and are currently delivering its’ exhibition programme in partnership with the National Trust.
House of Beasts. 2 July 2011 – 15 July 2012
Attingham Park, Atcham, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 4TP
NB: Dogs welcome on leads in deer park and near the mansion.
Image: Kate MccGwire – Evacuate. Proposal for Evacuate at Attingham Park, which will be adapted from a piece commissioned by Parabola for the Tatton Park Biennial 2010