When: 25th September 2017 – 12th April 2018 (Monday – Friday, 10:30am – 5:30pm)
Where: Biddulph Grange Garden, Grange Rd, Biddulph, Staffordshire ST8 7SD
£: Admission costs £9.50 for adults, £4.75 for children, £23.70 for a family and National Trust members go free
What is it?
A bold sculptural installation, featuring two four-metre structures, will take centre stage in the landscaped gardens of Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire. Curious Formations is a striking contemporary artistic response to the National Trust property’s fascinating geological history.
Created by international artist Jo Lathwood, the two wooden structures have been designed to resemble feldspar, a crystal that is found in many rocks in the 19th century Geological Gallery at the Victorian garden. Visitors can enter the structures and peer through a window which has polarized filters causing light to diffract, creating a similar effect to viewing rock samples under a microscope. Looking through the window, the other part of the artwork and the space around it will completely transform into ‘a geometric, solar universe of forms, iridescent and infused with colour.’
Lathwood was inspired by the interests of James Bateman, owner of Biddulph from 1841 to 1868. Bateman was a plant collector and the co-creator of the gardens and the Geological Gallery, the latter being conceived to convince visitors of his theories that combined new geological finds with the Christian story of creation. The gallery, closed for many years, is now open and currently undergoing a major restoration project which is due to complete in 2018.
The artist’s previous work, which includes studies into rock structure, its formation and experiments into molten rock forms, are closely aligned with the story of Biddulph and its history of geological research and exhibition. Curious Formations is an artistic response to the stories of the gallery, gardens and Bateman’s beliefs.
Curious Formations has been created as part of the Trust New Art; the National Trust’s programme of projects developed in partnership with Arts Council England, making new works by established and emerging artists available in unique and historic settings.
Biddulph Grange’s Victorian garden was created by James Bateman for his collection of plants from around the world. A visit takes you on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen. The garden features collections of rhododendrons, summer bedding displays, a stunning Dahlia Walk in late summer and the oldest surviving golden larch in Britain, brought from China in the 1850s.
The Geological Gallery shows how Bateman’s interests went beyond botany. Opened in 1862 the unique hallway is a Victorian attempt to reconcile geology and theology.
Jo Lathwood was born in Bristol, England in 1984. Educated at the University of Brighton, Lathwood acquired a First-Class Degree in Fine Art Sculpture and was awarded Burt, Brill and Cardens People’s Art Award for the best in show, and second prize in recognition of ‘Outstanding Artist Achievement’ at the University. She has shown work in galleries around the UK and internationally.