NOTTINGHAMSHIRE.- Clumber was regarded as one of the finest non-Royal houses in England, an architectural jewel, beautifully set in 3,800 acres of parkland. Built around 1765 for the 2nd Duke of Newcastle it was from an age of huge, lavish house parties and vast wealth but due to its sheer scale the house became unsustainable and in August 1938 Clumber was demolished.
Once the country seat of the Dukes of Newcastle, today Clumbers 15 square kilometres of parkland, lake, gardens and woodland are owned by the National Trust and are open to the public, the estate also provides a haven for wildlife.
Artists to build mansion for birds
Internationally acclaimed artists, London Fieldworks (Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson), will take the theme of The lost house of Clumber and re-imagine it as a series of mansions for birds in a tree borne sculpture entitled Spontaneous City in the Cedar of Lebanon. They will build a spectacular cluster of bird boxes housed in one of the park's vast cedar trees. The sculpture will make reference to the many elegant rooms of the Dukes of Newcastle's former country seat, now lifted from the ground and redesigned to accommodate the park's avian residents.
Cedar is the wood from which the temples and palaces of the ancient Middle East were constructed and this Cedar tree will become an architectural gem for birds. Intertwining the lives of the park's inhabitants both past and present, human and avian, Spontaneous City invites visitors to wander in their imaginations among the Greek columns of a vanished house, take flights of fancy through a treetop metropolis, or simply observe the birds moving into their new Clumber Park accommodation.
A Leopard at Leisure
Many a Duke or Lord has aspired to own a menagerie, a collection of exotic and rare animals from around the world, and the 4th Duke of Newcastle was no exception. However, the leopard he imported from India failed to adjust to a new life at Clumber House, and was eventually sent to London's zoological gardens.
Now the leopard returns in the form of a new artwork by London Fieldworks, simply titled The Leopard. Lazing contentedly on a tree branch, a picture of regal elegance, the animal is transformed into a fine Regency chaise longue. Moving between colonial India and central England, the aristocratic 19th Century and the present day, the leopard adapts to its new environment by changing its shape, and finally becomes 'part of the furniture'.
The Leopard will be viewable by visitors from a specially designed observation platform. Rising in the background is the park's imposing Gothic Revival chapel, its spiritual aspirations and upward-pointing vertical lines a counterpoint to the horizontal luxury of the chaise longue.
National Trust have invited London Fieldworks to create Spontaneous City and The Leopard as part of their new contemporary art programme Playful Landscapes.
"Creative projects can often help people see somewhere in a new way," explains The National Trust's Tom Freshwater.
Jane Greenfield, The National Trust's contemporary art development officer in the East Midlands, says "London Fieldworks have a real talent for fusing art, architectural ideas and the outdoors. The resulting work is really inventive and integrates beautifully with the natural landscape
Numerous public events will be included in the project.