Time Horizon - Antony Gormley Exhibition - Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Published: 29/05/2024

Please follow link to website and photos of this exhibition  click here

Gormley2.jpgWe visited this spectacular installation in May 2024 and found it fascinating. Antony Gormley has installed 100 of his iron figures, based on casts of his own body (think of the figures gazing out to sea on the beach at Formby) around the gorgeous 300 acre landscape of Houghton Hall.  The installation, although new to Houghton, was previously shown in 2006 in an archaeological site in Catanzaro, Italy.

The figures pop up in unexpected places all around the open deer park,  in shady woodland, in the walled garden; they can be viewed distantly in the landscape or close up as you wander around. Adding to the fascination is the concept of the single horizontal plane. A “datum figure” just inside the lower arcade below the entrance hall to the house sets the height for the 100 sculptures, putting them all at the same level, some at full height, some buried up to the waist, some elevated on columns. This concentrates the mind on the topography and the gentle undulation of the park and challenges our perception of the Norfolk landscape. I particularly enjoyed the figure that peers out from its column above the high wall of the walled garden, and the oneGormley3.jpgburied up to its neck with just the head showing above ground. We did not have any children with us on our visit but I could imagine them shrieking with delight as they discover new ones around each corner.

So what is it all about? What is Art? Just something pretty to look at, or something to challenge you, force you to interact with it, make you, the viewer, part of the process? As we wander around the figures, we become a part of the installation. We think about the layers of human history and geological time. It’s about the relationship of the human body to the space around it.

Houghton Hall has much more to offer to the visitor; the manicured gardens, the park, the exquisite interior of the house. A permanent collection of modern works of art makes Houghton a Sculpture Park of some standing. Running in parallel with the Antony Gormley installation  is an exhibition of the work of ceramicist Magdalene Odundo. Her pieces are displayed in the rooms of the house –you may make up your own mind about how well these modern pieces sit with the décor of the home of Robert Walpole.

The Gormley exhibition runs until 31st October and the Odundo until 29th September. For more information,  click here.