‘OR’ – Lowther Castle to host dramatic visual art installation
19 April – 6 May, 2024
Following the runaway success of Ten Thousand Daffodils last year, Lowther Castle & Gardens is delighted to announce that it will host a follow-up charity fund-raising event in the gardens at Lowther Castle later in the spring. The event will be hosted by Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust under the chairmanship of Bryan Gray CBE and will benefit three charities: James’ Place, Restore and the Lowther Church Restoration Fund*. (information on all three charities on the following page).
The installation OR – so called because the Lowther crest is based round the colour gold – has been put together by County Durham based artist Steve Messam. It was he who created PaperBridge in Grizedale (a functioning packhorse bridge made from 22,000 sheets of red ‘poppy’ paper) and more recently Hush which filled a lead-mining scar in the North Pennines with over five kilometres of fabric (see image overleaf).
Steve, whose work seeks to ‘explore and uncover the layers of narrative within the rural environment’, says of OR: ‘When I was invited to look at Lowther Castle as a site for a large-scale installation, I was immediately drawn to the South Lawns. Unlike many prospects for stately houses, these lawns slope down towards (not away from) the castle. We are installing 520 gold flags across all these lawns. Each flag will measure up to 2.5m wide and 1.5m high and will fly from simple aluminium poles at a height of between 3m and 5m. The variation in height will add to the visual mass, while a subtle variation in colour in the flags will create texture. Overall, the display will measure around 320m x 45m, creating an installation of a scale rarely seen – over 5 times the size of the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London.’
‘The experience of coming to the gardens and walking among these flags will be highly sensory. Not only do the flags create a mass of colour but they will also crack with the wind. Visitors who walk to the top of the installation will gain an incredible view of the castle at the bottom of the slope, standing proud in a sea of gold. All materials, after the event, will be recycled.’
Bryan Gray, chairman of Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust, said: ‘We are very excited about the prospects of this installation. Lowther Castle enjoys a dramatic setting and we are delighted to use its natural assets to raise funds for charity. Funds will be taken as a proportion of the ticket income over the period of the installation and we are hoping to donate around £30,000 each to James’ Place, Restore and the Lowther Church Restoration Fund.
‘We are also delighted that pupils from Lowther Endowed School will be involved in the event by helping us to launch it and being the event’s ‘flag-bearers’. At its heart, this is an event to celebrate the community of Lowther – the estate, the castle, their neighbours and followers. It is entirely appropriate that the pupils of Lowther School are involved.’
On hearing of OR, Ellen O’Donoghue, Chief Executive of James’ Place, said: ‘We would like to say a huge thank you to Lowther Castle & Gardens for their continued support. James’ Place offers free, life-saving treatment to suicidal men at centres in Liverpool and London, with our Newcastle centre opening soon. This funding will help us to develop new centres in England over the coming years, so that more men in crisis can access our vital support.’
Carla Weild, Head Teacher of Lowther Endowed School, said: ‘Our school is a small wonderful primary school a few miles from Lowther Castle. It was founded in 1640 by Sir John Lowther and we are always happy to reinforce our links with our founders. At present, we are developing our status as a Forest School and Lowther Castle is helping us to improve our offer and facilities in that regard. Being involved with OR will only help to raise our profile and to spread the word that this school is a proud member of the Lowther community.’